fifty shades of grey

Stain1Spoiler alert: This is not a post about the erotica novel or film. 

Picking out stain was about as frustrating as picking out a hand railing. My knowledge of stain is about as profound as my knowledge of quantum physics. I know that they exist, and that they are a fundamental part of their respective categories, but as for how it all works, I have no idea. 

Stain4I have never used any other colour of stain aside from white. It was on two different staircases, one inside and one outside. I used the same stain for both and applied it with a paintbrush. It was messy and didn’t last longer than a year on either. I saw my hard work go down the drain, and decided from that point on that I hated stain. Paint was the way to go. 

Stain3That was before The Little Barn. Since then, stain has become our best friend. From the varying brands, to the varying types, to the varying tints, to the varying coverages, to the varying woods, to the varying materials used to apply it, we have had a crash course in stain. Stubborn to the end, I can’t say that I’ve liked it. However, I don’t hate it as much as I once did.

My mum uses stain for everything. I never understood it before, until now. With having to choose a colour for our tongue and groove ceiling, trim, doors, and furniture galore, we decided to stick to none other than gray. No, it’s not for our love of gray days, nor for the novel by E.L. James, but merely because it looks freaking cool. Literally. Its cool tones work well with our dark floor and white walls. I’m a big fan of the shade.

Stain2We chose Classic Gray Minwax for the majority of our home. For our furniture, we went with Sun Bleached Varathane.

What has been your experience with stain?

<3

Emory

a blogger’s dozen: drinking fine chocolate (liv a lil chocolate)

liv a lil chocolate - HSB - Display Photo copyHello, friends! This post is a very bittersweet one for me, and I’ll explain why. The bitterness comes from the fact that today marks the end of ‘A Bloggers Dozen’ series. It began as an idea to reach out to other bloggers that I either admired, hardly knew, or that liked my own site, coupled with the desire to introduce more recipes into HSB, and grew into something much more than that. The sweetness is the fact that I successfully featured a new guest blogger each month, beginning with myself and now ending with my brother and sister-in-law!

When I first introduced this food series last January, I neither had direction as to where I wanted to take it, nor did I know how to approach any potential writers. Now, nearly twelve months later, I finally feel as if I have a good handle on how to present these posts to you, and I love the opportunities that have stemmed as a result from this series. I have formed friendships with a few of you from all over the world, and have learned the value in working together with someone, merely for the sake of our creativity and passion. We don’t get paid for this after all, at least not in the monetary sense. However, the benefits that I have reaped from this series have far outweighed any superficial profits.

Come January 2015, I hope to introduce a new series. One that is similar in that it features a new guest blogger each month, but different because it will not centre on food. More to come on that later.

The saying is that all good things must come to an end. I also believe in making an exit while still on top, and for each door that closes, another opens. That’s a shitload of platitudes. Yet, that opening that I speak of is in the incredibly delicious form of liv a lil chocolate. This is a company that not only do I have familial ties to, but one that is so new that it was just launched this weekend in Kelowna, British Columbia! I can honestly say with 100% guarantee, that everything that comes from liv a lil chocolate is absolutely amazing. Don’t only take my word for it. Try this recipe, and when your tastebuds feel so alive that you feel as if they may just jump out of your mouths, then go to this website and order some of their other forms of chocolate. Do it now. With Christmas being but days away, your family and friends will thank you for it.

I couldn’t think of a better way to bid farewell to ‘A Blogger’s Dozen’ than to feature a recipe from liv a lil chocolate, and the people behind it. Thank you for reading these posts over the last twelve months! Enjoy this one, and in the meantime, patiently await my new series that’ll begin again next month!

<3

Emory

Decadent Drinking Chocolate - 1Drinking Chocolate:

Ingredients:

40 g (1/4 cup) of dark chocolate shavings

250 mL (1 cup) of whole milk

Decadent Drinking Chocolate - 2Steps:

1. Select your chocolate. The type and quality of the chocolate you select will directly determine the outcome of the resulting drink. We prefer a 70% dark chocolate (this number represents the % of cocoa solids), which we find produces a rich, full-bodied drink. However, some prefer a drinking chocolate with a sweeter finish in which chocolate around 55%-60% cocoa solids may be more ideal.

2. For optimal dispersion of the chocolate into the milk it is best to grate the chocolate. Alternatively, the chocolate may be finely chopped using a knife.

3. Warm the milk in a saucepan. Once at a simmer (careful not to boil or scald) add the chocolate shavings. Using an immersion blender or whisk, mix the chocolate into the milk until completely emulsified and smooth.

4. Pour into a mug and enjoy.

Decadent Drinking Chocolate - 3For centuries, from the Mayans to the Aztecs, chocolate was revered as a magical elixir and was consumed as a drink to nourish and stimulate both the body and mind. In fact, the history of chocolate is as rich as the substance itself as cocoa beans were once a common currency while the botanical name of the tree from which they grow (Theobroma cacao) literally translates from Greek to mean “food of the gods.”

While the chocolaty drink consumed by these ancient cultures would have been quite bitter and harsh, modern varieties of hot chocolate have been tarnished with “artificial flavouring” and the practice of mixing powder into water. Fortunately, it is incredibly easy to whip up your own batch of this velvety tonic and restore this drink into the hall of liquid legends.

This basic recipe will produce a true drinking chocolate that is incredibly more complex and decadent than anything delivered from a tin. For those that enjoy experimentation, this drink can be topped with whipping cream (as seen in the photo), enhanced with a pinch of cinnamon, or for those long, cold winter nights, complimented with a shot of Baileys. The possibilities of personalization using this base recipe are endless.

Chocolate is incredibly complex and naturally contains over 300 chemical compounds, many of which have proven, positive effects on mood, concentration and sex-drive. Additionally, the anti-oxidants and flavanols found in chocolate have been demonstrated to have many health-boosting effects. However, science aside there is one aspect of chocolate that is indisputable: in moderation its effect on the soul is immeasurable. After all, our time here on this little blue dot is limited and whether you prefer chocolate in a solid or liquid medium (or both), we encourage you to live a little and enjoy fine chocolate!

Jordan and Julia

a picnic table for the little barn

PicnicTable1I began this post like I usually do. I had a general idea of what I was going to write, in addition to some photographs that I had taken earlier. I also knew that this piece needed a good title. I think that most writers leave the naming of their work until the end. That way, they are able to encompass all of their themes and digressions in a matter of a few words after getting a sense of the piece in its entirety. It’s easier to name something after you see it as opposed to naming it before and having to live up to that grandeur title. Or else they just call it “Untitled.” That’s taking both the easy and the rebel’s way out.

PicnicTable2I said most writers, not all. I actually do the opposite. I like having fun titles to my posts. Not ‘Fun.’ the indie band, but ‘fun’ as in interesting and quirky. Titles that seem vaguely familiar, but by changing a few of the words or its context, they take on a whole new meaning. Take today’s post, for instance. Knowing that it was about a picnic table, I typed the word picnic into a lyric database. What I was expecting was many children’s song titles such as “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” or “Going on a Picnic.” What I ended up getting was something completely different, and a little terrifying. I didn’t know that there was so much hostility towards what I consider to be such an enjoyable pastime!

PicnicTable4Here are some examples of such lyrics:

“Picnic” by Sammy J

The sun is up, the sky is blue

There’s no one here, just me and you

This would be such a perfect moment

If you were breathing 

It’s quite a shock, but all the same

Now I get twice as much champagne

And that should take away the shame

Of abducting you in the first place

“This Ain’t No Picnic” by Minutemen

Working on the edge

Losing my self-respect

For a man who presides over me

The principles of his creed

Punch in, punch out

Eight hours, five days

Sweat, pain and agony

On Friday I’ll get paid

This ain’t no picnic

“Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues” by Bob Dylan

Well, I soon lost track of m’ kids ‘n’ wife,

So many people there I never saw in m’ life

That old ship sinkin’ down in the water,

Six thousand people tryin’ t’ kill each other,

Dogs a-barkin’, cats a-meowin’,

Women screamin’, fists a-flyin’, babies cryin’,

Cops a-comin’, me a-runnin’.

Maybe we just better call off the picnic.

PicnicTable3You get the picture. Suddenly, my light-hearted post about our new table had started going in a downward spiral. In the end, I couldn’t bring myself to use any of the titles or lyrics that I had just discovered, and for the first time in a long time, I had to come up with my own. Hence, my blatantly obvious choice of “A Picnic Table for the Little Barn.” Short and sweet and to the point!

PicnicTable5So, after all of that, what I originally was going to write about was the fact that we ordered a custom table for our new home. We’ve never owned a proper table. We had a cafe set for the first few years of our marriage, then nothing for a year or more, then finally Baba’s table for the last year. Since we have 9 feet of space in our new home, I wanted a long-ass table. My mum generously gave us one of her church pews that I have been coveting for years, which is exactly 9 feet long. So I found a guy online who builds tables, and told him what I was looking for. He ended up making us a picnic table with a bench on one side only, and a tabletop that is 7′ x 3′. I love it!

PicnicTable6We still need to stain it and fill in the holes with filler. Until then, it’s being stored at my parent’s house. 

I’ll be sure to post a picture of our new table, along with our pew in The Little Barn, once we move everything in. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this post and music lesson!

<3

Emory

we could all use a friend like holly (noisette)

Tea1I recently received a parcel that was sent to my store office. When the building’s landlord told me that I had package waiting for me, my first reaction was that one of my items was delivered unsuccessfully. Already mentally preparing to contact the buyer, rewrap the item, and send it back with a discount for the inconvenience (my mind works quickly), the last thing that I was expecting was a little box that was addressed to me, from Holly.

Tea2Sometimes I forget that readers actually take in the aspects of my life that I blog about. Sure, if you read HSB, you probably know a little something about the house that I’m building, or that I own a few pets, or that I’m married. Those of you who truly follow my life, know more about me and it than I give you credit for. Not only did the card have antlers on it and a beautiful handwritten note, but what was inside was one of my all-time favourite foods in tea format. Plus, it came from halfway around the world. Who does that? Only the sweetest person ever.

Tea3I certainly don’t know what the true measure of a friend is. I think that varies for each and every individual. However, Holly is a pretty damn good one. On days like this, I am once again thankful for the blogging community in regards to introducing me to some really great people. Click on Holly’s blog, and say hello. Honestly. We could all benefit from having a friend like her.

<3

Emory

how much is that doggie in the window

Adoption2Lately, I’ve been pining for another dog. It seems to be that I experience the infamous ‘two-year-itch’ not in relationships, but with animals. We owned Holly for two years and one month before we adopted Truman. In turn, we’ve had Truman for twenty-three months. Now, for the past few weeks, my heart has been yearning for another pet.

On the Saturday following Black Friday, two local rescue organizations hosted two different Adoption Days. Somehow, I had managed to get the day off. My husband and I loaded up our dogs into the vehicle, and in addition to running errands, ended up attending both of these events. It was a high of -20°C that day, and felt more like -40°C. If it wasn’t for the two events, I wouldn’t have left the house.

Adoption5At first, Geoffrey was against adding to our pet family. He had even refused to come inside the first Adoption Day. He sat in the vehicle with the dogs while I went inside. A few minutes later, I get a call on my cellphone, and there he was. I felt so happy. 

Adoption3We bought some coffee and baking and made a donation to the organization, We All Need A Rescue. Then we walked around, played with the rescue dogs, talked to other interested individuals, and ran out to the vehicle to check on our own dogs.

I always find these events to be such an eye opening experience. I long to give each and every dog a home. Yet, considering that there were over 80 of them needing a rescue, that would be impossible.

Adoption4After leaving, Geoffrey admitted that he would like another dog. I said that I wanted two more. We settled on possibly getting just one. 

Adoption8New Hope Rescue’s Adoption Day was next on our list. We had attended one of their events last year. You can see that post here. It was very different this time around, and felt more like a madhouse. The greenhouse was also hosting a Christmas craft sale. It was next to impossible to actually get to see any of the dogs, but I did play with one and talk to her foster dad for quiet awhile. She was gorgeous. 

Adoption9We finally made it home later that afternoon. I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I felt like we did our part in donating to these shelters, but was also feeling guilty for not being able to help them all out.

Adoption11The next day, I went to the SPCA Shelter to take one more look. Of all the organizations that we had just seen, the SPCA is the one that makes me feel the most guilty and sick to my stomach. Here, they do not have foster homes, and the animals look incredibly on edge in their little cells that are often dirty. I did fall in love with a beautiful girl named Cora that was ready to go home that day. However, until our house is completed, we can’t adopt anyone just yet.

Adoption10After being hit with the reality that we aren’t quite ready to take in another animal, coupled with the fact that I wouldn’t know which one to choose, I’m beginning to come to the realization that maybe my two-year-itch will have to go unfulfilled. Truman is finally out of his puppy stage, and Holly probably doesn’t have many more years ahead of her. Right now, our lives are bordering on contentment. Do I really want to change that? (Yes, I do!)

In the meantime, and until we are ready, I’ll just keep donating to these shelters. 

<3

Emory

  • Welcome, friends! My name is Emory. I am a wife and mother to three (two on earth and one in heaven). This is our life on the Canadian prairies.
    email: helloscarlettblog@outlook.com

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