tenth anniversary

Ten years of being married to you. One decade. Where do I even begin?

Our life seems to change from year to year, and although it’s had its downs, I would say that this stage of life is one of our best and strongest yet.

We worked hard to get here. It took us six years of unrelenting searching to find this acreage. Now that we are here, we are thanking God and counting our blessings everyday through conversation and as we pray. We are renovating slowly this time just so that we don’t finish it too quickly and then get an urge to move and start over again. We are mindfully adding things (like fire pits and playhouses) to our property so we can take the time to unwind throughout the day and during the night and really just enjoy this life. This life that we have built together.

We waited five years exactly before I became pregnant with our first child. Then nearly three years later we added our second. This is what works for our family. We had those wonderful years where we could solely focus on one, and now we are focusing intently on both of them. Although we do get tired, we are far from overwhelmed or stressed out. They are beautiful and sweet children, and we are so lucky to have been made their parents.

Our journey is far from over. We are strengthening our relationship with God, living meaningfully, trying our hardest to reduce our waste and preserve the planet (a far cry from previous years), learning how to be less anxious and relax more, striving to be the best parents, communicating more to improve our marriage, and trying to give back when we can. Personally, you would like to make more family traditions, advance in your career, and just have more fun. I would love to eventually have one more child and then to foster children. 

Only God knows what the next year of marriage will bring. I hope that among all the bad in the world right now, that it will begin to shift to only good for everyone on this planet. Also, that the good that comes from our family will continue forward. I love you all!

Em

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covid renovation: wood pallet playhouse

It started with Pinterest. Somehow in my search for all things outdoor I came across a pallet wood playhouse. As soon as I saw it, I sent the image to my husband. “We can build this!” I wrote. “And we can do it for free.

Now if you were to type ‘pallet wood playhouse’ into any search engine, you will get hundreds of different designs. Many of them are not pretty per se, because the easiest way to construct a playhouse from pallets is to leave them intact and just throw up walls, a roof, and maybe even a deck. (See below.)

The issue with that is the playhouse is not weather-proof. Everything inside therefore is exposed to the elements. So while dismantling each pallet is painstakingly long and laborious, it will ensure a sturdy, sound, and dry playhouse!

So how did we do it for free? During COVID many businesses were closed. However, we were able to find a few that were still open in the industrial parts of the city. They almost all had pallets stacked behind the buildings. We went inside and asked if we could take them off of their hands. They were more than happy to give them to us! So after a handful of trips into the city with the trailer, we now had all of the wood needed for the playhouse. All for the low cost of $0.

Before we began construction, we searched online for blueprints. We found a website that provided thirty-one free playhouse plans. It took an entire evening but we finally settled on a design that we thought would look best and would be easy to build. You can download those plans here!

Having now possessed the plans and the wood, we got started on dismantling the pallets, taking off one thin board at a time. This will honestly be the most difficult part of building your playhouse. Pallet wood is either thin and somewhat brittle or very thick and hard to remove. Once it is removed, it has the advantage of looking rustic, and costing you nothing, of course.

Be sure to keep the nails from the pallets. I suggest using a crowbar or hammer to pry the boards from its base. Each board will have one or a few nails that you may reuse when attaching them to its new base. This will keep your costs down and save you from having to buy nails or screws for the playhouse!

Once we removed the boards, we started framing. Luckily, we had wood laying around from other projects and so we were able to construct most of the frame that way. We changed the door and windows. We also had to modify it to fit the different lengths of the pallet wood. You can add wood accordingly. If you don’t have extra wood on hand, then be sure to use the wood frame from the pallets. You might have to get creative, but you shouldn’t have to buy any.

After the framing was done, we attached the pallet wood. I asked Geoff to use the nicer pieces since I wasn’t sure if I was going to paint it or not. (Originally I was planning on painting the playhouse white.) This went quicker than dismantling. Each wall was complete within a few hours.

Now for the flooring. I’ve seen playhouses where they are without any type of floor. Because we were placing it directly on grass, we didn’t want to have to move the playhouse every time we needed to cut the lawn. Initially we were going to use some of the pallet wood to make a floor. However, by chance Geoff found half a dozen pallets with particle board. It was the perfect platform to place a playhouse on, having enough space leftover for a small deck. So we went with that.

Finally, the roof is also up to you. I’ve seen plans with any roof, roofs made of particle board, pallet wood, shingles, tarps, and more. This is where we decided to spend some money, but you don’t have to! One of the houses that we remodelled had a white metal roof. Since then, white has always been my colour of choice when it comes to roofing. Because the playhouse itself was more on the rustic side, I wanted the roof to be a feature and to look clean and crisp. White would obviously do the trick! We searched online for a few days, and finally found a local supplier that sold what we were looking for. We only ended up spending about $50 on the metal. It’s one of my favourite parts about the playhouse. (Again, you can use whatever you have to make the roof.)

Finally it was time to put it all together. Geoffrey took out each wall, and screwed it all in place within a matter of minutes.

Now the fun part- furnishing it! Because of COVID, I didn’t want to go shopping for things to fill the playhouse with. Besides, we had a playroom in our basement that was overrun with toys for the kids. I took out the IKEA kitchen set and put it in the playhouse. It fit perfectly.

We added a shelf to the back window (which wasn’t in the original plans) because the kids kept wanting us to order food. Now when they are playing inside, we sit on the exterior deck and they can easily pass us food. It’s so cute. I really recommend this addition!

I also removed two rugs from our house and an over-the-door hanger. I filled the rest with random items from around our house that we really weren’t using. I went with kind of a minimalist-rustic-neutral theme, much like what is seen in our home. Because of that, I feel like it just all came together.

I did end up purchasing a few small items from the dollar store. Yet, if I can reiterate once more, this entire playhouse can be made for free, or for almost no cost. During a time of a pandemic, financial uncertainty, more free time, and nicer weather, it really is the most fitting project!

Emory

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recipe: braided cinnamon swirl loaf

I have to admit that I made this recipe pre-pandemic. I used two different types of flour and sugar, as well as yeast. I am going to hold off making it again until I have enough of those ingredients in my pantry. However, if you have them now, please indulge in this deliciously moist and sweet loaf. You will not regret it!

Braided Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

Ingredients:

For the dough:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup warm water
1 large egg
oil, to grease pan

For the filling:
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup melted butter

Steps:

1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and active dry yeast in a large bowl. Mix well.

2. In a medium bowl, beat the oil, water, and egg. Then pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix with a spatula until well-combined. A soft dough should be formed. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes, adding more flour if dough is sticky. Grease a medium bowl with oil and place the dough inside, covering with a towel and letting rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

3. Using the same floured surface, remove the dough from the bowl. Flour a rolling pin and roll out the dough to an 11”x17” rectangle. Spread the filling evenly onto the dough. Starting at the widest end, roll the dough into a long log. Cut the log in half and pinch one of their ends together. Gently braid a few times. Set inside a greased loaf pan, cover, and let rise for 90 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the loaf inside and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let cool slightly before taking it out of the pan. Store in an airtight container, bag, or bread box at room temperature.

Emory

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covid renovation: farmhouse guest bedroom

Geoffrey and I made a renovation list in 2019, detailing which room we would renovate and when. For instance, this guest bedroom was originally slated to be made-over in the spring of 2021. That was pre-COVID.

At the beginning of our self-isolation, it was still too cold to be outside twice a day. Remy’s preschool and activities were all cancelled, so like the rest of the world, we were expected to be home all 24 hours of the day. With all of this extra time, I knew that I would need a project. One that I could do while being in the basement with the kids while they played. This guest room was the solution.

This is what it looked like before. It wasn’t in that rough of shape. The drywall was exposed in some areas where the paint had been ripped off of the wall. Other than a few blemishes, it seemed like a fairly simple room to spruce up. All it required was some paint, better furniture placement, and for my husband to stop using it as his work closet/filing cabinet.

Because we were supposed to limit the amount of times that we went shopping, we made it our mission to reuse paint, furniture, and decor where we could. Not only did it keep in line with our zero waste mission, but it made it an uniquely Coronavirus renovation. Challenge accepted.

We had over half a can of pale green paint leftover from our children’s bedroom, and half a can of of white. I decided to do two walls and the closet in the green and two walls in the white. Even with two coats we would be needing every last drop of paint. I prayed that it would look good, because there was no room for error.

The green looked much better in the guest bedroom than it did in the upstairs bedroom. That was a huge relief. I painted the rest of the bedroom slowly over a matter of weeks, in between playing with the kids and having to wait for when Geoff had time off. After two coats, many touch-ups, and sealing the edges in silicone, I was finally done! 

In keeping with our farmhouse theme, I chose to use the majority of our antiques in the guest bedroom. The bed, armoire, Hudson Bay blanket, and white crate are all vintage items.

We reused the dresser, cowhide rug, braided rug, plant, planter, bedding, and curtains from our other rooms in our home.

I did have to buy a wall sconce and gold curtain rod from Amazon. We also bought a new register and switch plates from Home Depot. Other than that, it was a successful COVID renovation!

Emory

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happy mother’s day

“There is no role in life that is more essential than that of motherhood.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard

“A mother understands what a child does not say.”
Jewish proverb

“The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.”
Elaine Heffner

“When you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.”
Mitch Albom

Once again, I had a hard time just picking one quote. So many of them spoke to me! What is your favourite quote about motherhood?

This is my fourth Mother’s Day. Here we are, in our element. Safe and at home on our prairie acreage. Warm spring days. Remy and Wilder stealing the show. Me trying to keep up with them both.

Happy Mother’s Day to every mama out there. Whether or not you get to squeeze your children on Sunday, I hope that you can make the most of your day. You give your children the world, and so you deserve the world in return.

Emory

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