we sold big green

Friends, last week we officially handed over the keys to Big Green. After owning it for (one week shy of) three years, it became the longest that we had owned any home. So much happened during that time. We moved in when Remy was six months old. We said goodbye to a dog. We said goodbye to a baby. We welcomed a baby. We celebrated birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Christmases, Easters, and more. Geoffrey changed careers. I became a stay-at-home parent. We made friends. We vacationed a little. We learned a lot.

Mostly, I would say that we did renovations. Oh my goodness, how we renovated. It began with a new mailbox. That year, we also put wallpaper in the back porch and made over Remy’s room.

In 2017 we attempted Remy’s room again, revamped the bathroom, renovated the upstairs hallway, did Remy’s room for the third and final time, our front porch, the main floor hallway, the back porch again, and backyard.

In 2018 we started by redoing the dining room, living room, kitchen, then a little of everything when I was pregnant and nesting, and finally our master bedroom. We ended up tackling every room in our home, as well as the exterior. The only area we didn’t get to was the unfinished basement. Hopefully the next owners can renovate it, thus completing the total home makeover.

In 2019, when Wilder was only three months old, we listed Big Green and moved into our current home. In the end we realized that we are not city people. We both grew up on acreages and farms, moved back to an acreage after getting married, and then finally bought our own this year. We belong in the country.

I will forever love Big Green for what it taught us- even though we experienced hardships within its walls. However, it was a good home and such an incredibly fun project. I will especially miss playing with Remy in her cozy little room.

These were the final listing photographs of our beloved home. I hope that it’s as treasured by its new owners as it was by us. Goodbye, Big Green!

Emory

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our acreage: gardens

When we first moved out here, we didn’t have a garden. Geoffrey and I talked about making a large vegetable garden somewhere in our yard, but we couldn’t agree on where. What we did agree on was waiting at least a full year to think about it and get a feeling for where it would work best before we went ahead and dug up the grass. Then the snow began to melt.

What we noticed first was a small square perimeter of wood in our front yard. As the snow melted more, we began to see sand. Once it completely disappeared, we were left with an old 8′ x 8′ sandbox that had clearly been neglected. Not wanting to keep it a sandbox because of all the stray cats and wildlife around here, I eventually chose for it to become my rock garden.

I envisioned a desert-inspired garden with lots of cacti and rocks. I asked many people what I should do to transform this sandbox into a usable, grow-able space and was given lots of ideas. My sister-in-law was the most knowledgeable, so I listened mostly to her. The first thing I did was stain the wood. I chose a darker colour called “Coffee” thinking that it would contrast our light grey house nicely. I went in blind since I had no idea what exterior theme we would eventually go with- modern, western, etc. I therefore aimed for a slightly more modern look.

Next I dug several 1′ x 1′ holes. I think I started with around seventeen. Then I filled them with soil. It was still too cold to plant anything, so for days I just stared out the window at these holes. To me, it looked much too cluttered. I decided to fill those holes back in with sand and dig new ones. This time I ended up with ten. Much better.

Over the next few weeks, I set about getting everything planted in my garden. I started by propagating a few cacti that were growing in our home. Right away it was clear that they weren’t going to survive. (I was too excited and planted them too early.) Then my next door neighbour gave me thyme to put in my garden. I thought, ‘OK, this will be a thyme and cacti rock garden’. A few days later I went to a greenhouse and came back not with cacti but bell peppers, white onions, succulents, and red Canadian roses. Clearly my desert-inspired garden was slowly becoming a vegetable/flower garden. Oh well!

Have you ever tried growing green onion in water from food scraps? It is ridiculously easy, even for a brown thumb like me! After you buy some from the grocery store and consume the dark green part of the vegetable, take the leftover part (the white bulb with roots attached) and put it in a glass of water. Be sure to change the water every day or every second day. Almost instantly you will see new growth occur. I did this for about two weeks before I transplanted them into my garden. That’s when they really took off! They are over 3 feet tall. I have never seen green onion quite like this before. Geoff and I still laugh about how massive they are.

To finish it off, I purchased large river stones to cover the sand. I think that it took around eight bags. Then I bought small smooth pebbles to fill in the gaps. I found the large rocks to line the plant holes along the dirt roads that we walk on everyday.

After filling my rock garden with all of the plants and vegetables that I could think of, I felt like that it began to look a little disorganized. Somewhere along the way I lost my vision of a minimalist cacti haven. Following advice from my mother-in-law and mum to start a garden along the garage, I decided to do just that. I removed the rhubarb from the rock garden, then the sunflower plant, then the white onions, then the peppers, and put them in my new garden that Geoff made for me by rototilling a long and narrow patch. We also added the peonies that we took from our other house. Garden thieves.

I tended to that second garden for a few weeks before I began to notice that every night animals were digging in it. After a lengthy search on Pinterest, I found simple and practical fence options that one could DIY in a matter of a few days. Back I went to Geoffrey, asking him to now build a fence around our spontaneous little garden. He was probably hesitant at first, but once I showed him the pictures, he became very excited and said that he would love to do it.

As an added treat, I took the kids to visit an out-of-town friend for two days. Armed with music, beer, and hot weather, he constructed the cutest darn fence that we have ever had. He used cement, chicken wire, and treated 2′ x 4’s and posts. Then I laid down mulch.

We finished it off by adding hinges and a latch on the gate. Beautiful and practical. Yet, we weren’t done.

Once I saw how lovely the treated lumber looked, I knew that my slightly-modern outdoor theme was now out the window. Rustic was the way to go for our acreage. This meant that I wanted to change the stained wood that housed my rock garden. I sent Geoffrey back to Home Depot for treated 2′ x 6’s. He went and picked them up, then came home and replaced the wood, making it much taller as well. I love the way it turned out. This rock garden will forever remind me of my sister-in-law.

Next year we have plans for raised flower beds in an enclosure along the sunnier side of the garage. Until then, these are our acreage gardens.

Emory

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becoming a zero waste household

This post will be one in a series of our new zero waste journey.

Now I have been pretty horrible in regards to taking care of our planet up until this point. We had bins for recycling when we lived in the city. I rarely used them. I gave Truman our table scraps and then threw out what he didn’t eat. I didn’t conserve water. I ran the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer nearly everyday. I let the tap run excessively when I washed my face or washed my hands. The list goes on.

Since moving to our acreage, we have began to adopt a more waste-free lifestyle. It all began when I read this Instagram post on composting:

In recent years, only an estimated 38% of food was composted in the US. Food scraps make up about 30% of everything we throw out 😱 not only that, when we send our food scraps to the landfill, they decompose with no air, creating the greenhouse gas methane – a gas that is 34x more potent than CO2.⁣

Composting diverts food scraps from landfills and creates rich, nutrient soil that can be used to grow more food- it is truly circular!⁣

Then I went on to read this one:

“So why is it so important to keep organic matter out of landfill anyway? Won’t it just breakdown there? Well basically, no.⁣
.⁣
Landfill areas are so densely compacted that there is not enough microbes, air, light or moisture for organic matter to breakdown. Did you know that they have found 20+ year old intact carrots in landfill!?! Compared to my worms who could break down a blended carrot in a couple of hours…⁣
.⁣
When organic mater does begin to breakdown in landfill, it does so anaerobically (without oxygen), which produces greenhouse gases as a byproduct.⁣
.⁣
So by throwing your organic scraps into your kerbside bin you’re ensuring they probably wont break down – and if they do, they’ll produce green house gases.

After that, I was convinced. I told Geoff that we were going to start composting that day, and he was on board. He went outside a few days later, and built me a bin out of spare wood that we had laying around.

Now we keep a large container with a lid inside of our house where we collect everything. Then once a day, or every second day, we go outside and empty it into our compost pile. I can’t wait until we are able to use it in our garden!

Because we have to get our water hauled to us, we conserve conserve conserve. We have a 1500 gallon tank in our basement. I do the dishes in the sink every morning, making sure to not fill the sink too full. We don’t flush the toilet with every trip to the bathroom. Instead of bathing once or twice a day, I instead have a quick shower every second day. The kids, on the other hand, share a bath once a day. I wash our clothes only once a week, and hang them out to dry instead of using our dryer. We only turn the taps on low and quickly turn them off whenever we are done.

Our liquids get pumped to a spray field in our yard while our solids go to a septic tank.

We are also collecting rainwater from the eaves on the garage for all of our outdoor plants.

At the moment, I am striving towards eliminating all paper towel from our household. Producing paper towel consumes 110 million trees and 130 billion gallons of water per year. I am in the process of cutting up old towels and shirts to use them as rags. I hope to stop buying paper towel by the end of the month!

Finally, because we do not have garbage pickup, we now make a point of separating our recycling and bottles out of our trash. We take those in, and store our garbage in a bin behind our garage until it is ready to go to the dump. For now, that is our solution.

Stay tuned for my next post on further changes toward leading a more waste-free household.

Emory

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acreage video tour

Hello! Today I am publishing a video tour of our new acreage. We have neither had the time nor money to make any real improvements to the interior yet, so I thought that it would be a great idea to document it now before we do! That way, I can see the changes over the years to come. It will also allow you guys to have a better understanding of our latest home. :-)))

I will add that received a few messages with my previous post regarding everything going wrong. What I failed to mention was that our home was actually a foreclosure, which means that we bought it in “as is” condition. This made us very nervous, but at the same time we would not have been able to get it as quickly as we did or for the price that we did. So, it was a gamble (but one that paid off in the end).

Enjoy the video, lovely people!

Emory

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our 1st month on the acreage

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways submit to him,
And he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Welcome April. It has been one month since we moved into our new home, and almost every alarm bell has gone off. Literally, not figuratively. 

Early in the evening on the first day of moving, my husband called me on his last trip to the house. He was driving on the highway and he said that something was seriously wrong with his truck. His dashboard was lit up and his truck kept dying. He said that I was probably going to have to bring the kids and rescue him. It turns out that he blew the engine pulling too heavy of a load. Thankfully, he did end up making it to the house. After he unloaded everything, we went and picked him up late that night.

On the second night in our home, we woke up to a “beep beep beep beep.” Our fire alarm was going off in the hallway between our bedrooms. Geoffrey jumped out of bed and ran downstairs to get the step stool. He determined that it was just a faulty battery, and went to remove it from the ceiling. Suddenly we hear “fire! fire!” coming from the alarm. Geoff took it down and shut it off, but both of us were rattled. We have woken up in the middle of the night to a house fire in the past, and it had brought back those memories for me. I didn’t sleep for the rest the night.

We were scheduled to get our water delivered the next day. The truck came that afternoon as I was putting the kids down for a nap. Geoffrey went down into the basement to keep an eye on our water tank as it was getting filled. All of a sudden, I hear “BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.” It went on and on for a few minutes until it finally stopped. Apparently, the delivery guy couldn’t tell when to stop filling the tank, and it nearly overflowed. Geoff had to grab the stool once again and unplug the alarm on the ceiling in order to silence it. At that point, I had hoped that we heard the last of alarms going off. I was wrong.

We hired a plumber to come out and take a look at our furnace and water on demand system. He showed up the following day. The furnace was making a loud squealing noise to which the plumber ended up fixing. However, he had no idea how to get our in floor heating or our hot water to turn on. He ended up leaving without solving the problem. Fast-forward to the end of the day, I had tracked down the serviceman who had originally installed everything. It turns out that our water on demand system was corroded and discontinued. So we went without hot water and heat in the basement until the end of the week when he returned with a new hot water heater. This meant that yet more money was spent, but at least we could now bathe, wash dishes, and wash our clothes.

Moving upstairs, so far the fridge and stove seemed to work just fine. Geoffrey told me to hold off on using the dishwasher because he was quite literally frightened at this point about something else breaking down. It turns out that he had reason to be. We finally tried running it after about two weeks. It worked for a few minutes then suddenly stopped and filled with smoke. If the dishwasher had an alarm, I’m sure that it would have gone off. After pulling it out and taking it apart, Geoff found the root of the problem. He fixed it that evening, put it back together, and it has worked fine ever since. Thankfully we did not have to buy a new one!

Nearer the end of the month, my brother and his family came to visit us. The day of their first trip out to see our home was the most chaotic. Geoffrey was gone and so it was up to me to host and feed them that morning, then head into town for immunizations that afternoon, come back, put the kids down for a nap, and go back into town that evening for a baptism prep course. The day was long and I was so exhausted by the end of it. Upon returning home after 8 pm with two tired children, I heard an alarm going off in the house. I quickly ran inside and left Remy and Wilder in the doorway. I threw open the basement door and our cat and dog ran out, terrified. Descending the steps, I thought that it was a fire alarm and our home was going to burn down. I went into the mechanical room, and after not seeing a fire, dismantled the fire alarm to stop the noise. The beeping was insanely loud, and was still going. Panicking, I looked around the room until I thought I heard where it was coming from. I hit the silence button and finally there was peace at last.

Worried, but too exhausted to investigate, I texted my husband (who was on a train and wouldn’t see it until the following morning) that another alarm was going off. The next day we discovered that it was for our septic tank. A very long story short, we were able to get someone to come out, unfreeze our septic tank, explain everything to Geoff for a few hours, and remedy the problem. Yet, this was not the end.

I had reached my breaking point last week upon getting a letter in the mail from Information Services Corporation. Having never in my life missed a mortgage or bill payment before, it stated that we had a tax lien on the home that we had just moved from. I quickly Googled what that meant, and nearly lost it. I became so ill. Given that it was a Sunday evening, I couldn’t call anyone until the following morning. (It turns out that it was due to our water lines getting replaced the previous year, and us going on a long-term repayment plan. Everything turned out to be fine in the end.) Laying in bed that night, I pulled up the internet on my phone and saw that Remy had typed a bunch of random letters into YouTube. Worried, I scrolled through the videos to make sure that she hadn’t seen anything bad. The last video on that page was titled “Trust God First.” Curious, and very unlike what I would normally do, I clicked on it. 

I didn’t get very far into the video before I broke down. I just started crying. Up until then (and much like after my miscarriage), I had felt like God was punishing me for some unknown reason. Was I wrong in wanting a quieter and better life for my children? Did I do something in my past that I needed to be chastised for? But then I realized that no, God was permitting these things to happen in order to test me. To test us. He is allowing them to happen, just as He will be beside me every step of the way. Much like it took us five years and having faith in Him to find this acreage, I need to have patience and cast my worries aside. That will be difficult, given that it is my nature to rush through life and worry about EVERYTHING. Yet, I want to fully start trusting in the Lord. From now on, each time I start to feel anxious about something, I will remind myself that it is His will. I will get through it when I am supposed to, and He will help me.

Here’s hoping and praying that our second month goes much smoother than our first. Thanks for following along, friends! Have a beautiful week.

Emory

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  • 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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