New Year, Half Birthday, and a List of Updates

Well. It’s been three months and five days since a post went by here. My dad gave me a nudge tonight, and I’ll start by being very Canadian and apologize for my long unannounced break. I’m sorry, dear readers. I’m sure you are accustomed to reading with such attention that my lapse was noticeably annoying. I resolve not to disappoint you so in 2014. 😉 I’ve actually started several posts, but none were right to post at the right time. It’s as though I’ve had too much to say and not enough time to say it. So… here’s what’s happened, in a quick list, since October 10th. I may expand further on some of these later.

  • We hosted Thanksgiving, with a 3 month old baby in the house. It was maybe a little crazy, but I love Thanksgiving and I love to host, and it was wonderful (if not a little simpler than my usual).
  • My grandfather ended up hospitalized immediately after Thanksgiving, and passed away in hospital on December 23rd. He was playing and winning his cribbage games through most of his stay. I feel lucky that he was close by, and that we got many visits. I say, and it’s true, that I’ve always been accustomed to being the favourite… but I had no choice but to humbly step aside in favour of his first great granddaughter, our own Miss Sweet Pea. We have beautiful photos of the two of them together, and they will certainly be treasured. Please excuse what probably seems as a very mere mention in a list. Grandpa deserves a post of his very own, but I am still processing, so bear with me.
  • Sweet Pea was dressed as a sweet kitten for Halloween. She went to visit two houses with her grandfather, and they delivered beer rather than collecting candy.
  • We have all been sick, a lot. This is a job hazard of being a Kindergarten teacher, and it’s been a bad season of course.
  • Sweet Pea enjoyed her first Christmas. She loved Santa, and we got a great non-crying photo. Our celebrations were quiet, of course, but it was good to be with family.

Today, my sweet girl turned six months old. A half birthday! She is rolling around everywhere, can sit until she notices she’s doing so, loves playing on the floor with her dog, and is enjoying every meal as we enter into the exciting world of solid foods. She is growing like mad, and we are about to try her first night in the crib (fingers crossed!).

She loves toys and is desperately trying to crawl, so this photo taken today seemed appropriate to mark her 6 months, even though it’s blurry – she doesn’t stop moving!

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It was finally sunny, and in an attempt to feel healthy again, we went for some fresh air and sunshine. This was our first walk with her on my back in our new Beco Soleil carrier, and it was fantastic. Shout out to my mother in law for Sweet Pea’s beautiful hat!

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Shall I send you off with a little video? This makes me laugh. Sweet Pea is eager to eat, and eager to do it by herself.

Expect Miracles: A Christmas Poem, and Some News

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This image has been my cover photo on Facebook for months, but it felt appropriate to share it here tonight. I hadn’t realized it had been such an incredibly long time since I posted. I think you’ll forgive me. We are very happy to have some news to share, and I felt like Christmas Eve was the right time to share it. This day has long been my favourite of the year. The shopping is done by necessity, everything is calm and quiet, and it is easy to believe that miracles really do occur. In true Little Farmhouse style, I present to you….

The Night Before Christmas

or, A Short History of the Little Farmhouse

‘Twas the night before Christmas and through the little farmhouse

Not a creature was stirring, not even a field mouse.

Elaine’s stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

Oh wait! Not a chimney – it’s no longer there!

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

I ran to the window, was nearly in flight –

Threw open the blinds and… turned on a light.

Santa was there! He looked so perplexed.

“Oh help me!” he cried, “What should I do next?

People these days, they move all about.

I’ve lost track of which family members have moved in or out.”

“I feel your pain,” I replied as I ushered the way,

“I’m still learning names… are there more everyday?”

I poured Santa a drink, a fine Irish stout,

“Not to worry,” I said “We’ll figure it out.

Take a seat in that rocker, where once sat Kathleen

Who kept the wee farmhouse happy, fed & clean.

She and Herb had 5 kids. The boys lived there, all three!

And that was the 2nd generation, you see.”

“Oh yes!” Santa laughed, “I visited then.

I barely remember that, way back when.

Carry on, don’t you stop, who came after that?

I know there were kids, did I bring one a bat?”

I cleared my throat and continued: “Well, Becky married Glenn

And they made the small house their family den

They soon had two tots – oh yes – there were more!

And so the old stead saw generations three & four.”

The house had some renters but was destined for kin.

Kate married me, and then we moved in.

There’s news now to share. We’re excited, can’t lie!

Generation 5 will be here in July.”

Yes, dear blog followers… Santa will have a reason to visit this wee house once again! Baby is due July 25th, and we couldn’t be more thrilled as we celebrate this holiday season. There’s lots to do, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone. For now, Happy Christmas, everyone!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

(Or early, if you’re an American friend!)

I think I’ve recovered. I got the farmhouse ready last week and cooked Thanksgiving dinner for BOTH sides of the family, which was 12 adults and a baby. It seemed a little crazy to me, and it was definitely cozy, but we had a great time and I’m glad to know that we can FIT people in this way! My parents, brother, and grandparents came, and the Mr.’s dad, brothers & their wives, and our nephew joined us as well. Sadly, my mother-in-law is in England attending to the funeral of her mother. I missed her, and I’m thinking about doing a smaller version all over again when she returns (smaller! Did you hear that?).

I sent Cora to the groomer’s while I was cooking, partially to get her out of the way and partially because she was covered in mud from digging a hole or two earlier in the week. She likes to visit the horse in the field next to our yard… what can I say? Here she is looking both adorable and slightly absurd, waiting for our guests to arrive:

By the way, she weighs 50lb now!

Alright, this was the second Thanksgiving dinner I’ve done, and I feel like I’m starting to learn what I like and what I don’t, and what works best for me. Here are my Important Things to Remember. This year’s dinner went amazingly smoothly, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. Next year.

  1. Leanne Ely’s FREE Thanksgiving Menu Planner was helpful. I didn’t use all her recipes because I like our family traditions, but her turkey instructions were perfect. The turkey was moist and delicious, and I definitely preferred it to the in-a-bag turkey that I did last year. I did ours unstuffed, and I like that she offered options for seasoning the inside of the turkey in an “unstuffing” sort of way. I even followed her timeline on the FlyLady website, which really helped take any stress out of the day.
  2. Cola ham is delicious. I’ll follow up with the recipe that I used, because most of the others I see online use WAY too much Cola. We actually used Dr. Pepper – this was my husband’s choice, because he wanted to be able to tell people we were eating “Dr. Pepper Ham.” I admit, it has a ring to it. My Dad says it’s the best ham he’s ever had.
  3. Mashing the potatoes when I had time during the day and keeping them hot in a crock pot was a truly inspired plan. Leanne warns that some people’s crock pots may be too hot for this. Ours turned out perfectly, but that may have just been a stroke of luck.
  4. I used both crock pots and I can see a use for a third. Warning to my husband – I sense an obsession coming on.
  5. There MUST be a still-unpacked kitchen box somewhere! I thought we were done with them, but we need to go on a search. I’m missing my gravy boat, serving platters… and who knows what else?
  6. A cinnamon candle is always a good idea. I didn’t bake the pumpkin pies, but my house smelled like I did.
Dr. Pepper Ham Recipe:
Sometime I post recipes so that I know where to find them later. I hope that you might enjoy them, too. Here’s how I did the ham:
  1. Buy a smoked ham. Mine was a standard 2kg or so.
  2. Bring it home and wonder what to do with it. Find THIS recipe!
  3. Send husband to get a single-serve bottle of Dr. Pepper.
  4. Pour half the Dr. Pepper in a glass, over ice. Start sipping.
  5. In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar with 1tsp. dried mustard. Stir in just enough Dr. Pepper to mix into a paste, and heat only until the sugar dissolves. Splash in more pop as needed and “oooooh” over the way it bubbles up when it hits the heat.
  6. Cut some diamond-pattern into the top of the ham. I don’t know why we do this, but it was pretty.
  7. Use a pastry brush to coat the ham with the sugar/mustard/pop mixture. Give up, wash your hands, and give it a good rub.
  8. Pour 1/4-1/2 cup more Dr. Pepper into the bottom of your crock pot.
  9. Put ham in crock pot and cover. Turn on Low. Cook for 6 or so hours. This is a pre-cooked ham, it just needs to heat.
  10. Sip more Dr. Pepper, play around on the internet, eat some lunch. Realize you still have a TURKEY DINNER to cook and get off the couch!
That’s it. It really was out of the fridge and into the crock in 5 minutes flat.
With two kinds of meat on the feast table, we have lots of leftovers. Expect a few foodie posts this week!

Our Second Anniversary

I may or may not be the slowest person on the planet to order her wedding photos (okay okay, Michelle Libby confirmed that I am not, but I’m sure I’m darn close).

Today is our second anniversary. We celebrated, in part, by picking up some photos that I had finally managed to choose and order. The standard portraits in 8×10 for our parents, and a 16×20 for ourselves.

We also painted pottery and the Mr. made blackberry scones for brunch. The man can bake, alright. We ate them all. They were that good.

Anyway, I found it difficult to choose a photo. They were all fabulous, and there were many that I loved. I considered the black and white one above, because it’s an obvious favourite.

But, I settled on this one. Just as gorgeous, and I decided I would appreciate some colour. I was happy with my choice when I ordered it, but now I’m thrilled. It’s just beautiful, and I can’t wait to get it framed and hanging on the wall. Delightfully, I just realized that the purple flowers in the corner will pick up on the living room colours, and I’ve been meaning to throw in some green accent anyway.

 

And, this post can not possibly go by without wishing my grandparents a very happy 58th. When we were picking a wedding date we had two to choose from, and when I realized that August 22nd was their anniversary, the choice seemed to have made itself. This photo was taken at our wedding, as well. We had all the wedding photos of our parents and grandparents on the guest book table, and our photographer cleverly got a photo of them holding their wedding portrait. Isn’t it great? Happy Anniversary, Grandma & Grandpa! We love you.

AND… this post STILL is not complete without saying Happy Birthday to my Auntie Muriel!

It’s a good day.

Remembering Uncle Aaron

I’ve been away, and there will be more on that soon I think. But before I jump back into the swing of things here, I have something that I’d really like to acknowledge on this blog.

On July 13th, my great uncle, Aaron, passed away. It will, in my mind, always be his farm that we are living on. I am incredibly grateful that we got to move in while he was still well. Though we didn’t spend as much time with as I now wish, I’m happy that recent months allowed me to reconnect with him, and my husband to get to know him through visits to the barn.

You can see Aaron’s obituary here through the local newspaper’s website. But here is a small sample of other important things I know:

  • I was the lucky kid who made Aaron a great-uncle.
  • He called me Pebbles when I was tiny. I’m not really sure why. I loved it and love it still.
  • When I was a kid he offered me a LifeSaver from his shirt pocket every time I saw him.
  • Christmas at his house was always spectacular.
  • I think he was happy to have us here in this little house.
  • He was looking forward to my chickens laying eggs.
  • He had a great, quirky, teasing sense of humour.

In illustration of the above two points, I’ve just been told that he had a little plot in mind. Our hens aren’t laying yet, which he well knew, though he liked to ask as frequently as he saw us (hmm… he could tell we are impatient). He told my auntie Muriel that he intended to sneak an egg into one of the nesting boxes and see what we thought of THAT!

The day Uncle Aaron was taken to the hospital was July 1st. A statutory holiday in Canada, I was home and tidying up my living room that morning when I saw him turn the tractor into “my” driveway, which goes to the barn. For whatever reason, I was suddenly inspired to fling open the window, lean way out, and wave. He smiled and waved back. It is difficult for me to explain the sense of connection I feel here, but that moment both encapsulated and enhanced it.

It was a gift, as bright and sweet as the LifeSavers. Thank you.

An Interview With Grandma

Grandma and Grandpa came for a short visit and to see the chicken coop today, so I took advantage of that time to have a little discussion about this farm. Grandma was a great sport and has agreed to do more in the future, so if there’s anything you’re particularly interested in knowing about, leave me a comment! I’ll be sure to ask…

But first, I think it is important for you to have a vague understanding of (or at least a reference to!) the family structure, so that you can understand this post a little better. I hope there are more like it in the future of this blog.

Kathleen and Herb Anderson (the great-grandparents of this blog-writer) had  5 children. In birth order, they are:

  • Elaine, married to Elwood (my paternal grandparents). They have 2 sons.
  • Aaron, married to Muriel. They have a son (who runs the farm with his wife – our landlords), and a daughter. Aaron and Muriel still work on the farm daily.
  • Norman, married to Margaret. They have 4 kids including twins.
  • Sallie, married to Murray, with who she had two sons. She remarried after Murray died.
  • Albert, married to Dorothy. They run a nearby farm, have 4 kids, and many, many grandchildren.

Back row, left-right: Norman, Elaine, Aaron, Sallie Middle: Herb, Kathleen. Albert in the front.
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The Interview:

K: How old were you when you moved from Saskatchewan to this farm?

E: I was eleven when we came from the prairies. It was October 1941. All four of us were in school – Sallie in Grade 1, Norm in Grade 4, Aaron and I in Grade 5. Albert was born here in October 1942.

K: And when did you think this house was built?

E: Probably 1955. We (your grandpa and I) were married and living on the island when this house was built. Albert and Aaron lived in this house with mom and dad.

K: It must have been pretty exciting. 

E: Well mother was pretty pleased. The old house was two shacks pulled together. When we first came to coast it had a wide verandah at the back, which was then built in to be part of the new kitchen, and the boys’ bedroom. When we first came it was just one good-sized room and two little bedrooms, with a front porch which was kind of closed in.

K: What’s your best memory of this house?

E: We would just visit (from the island), as a rule. We seldom stayed overnight here because we usually stayed at my in-laws. I stayed here overnight a couple of times when the boys were staying with their grandma and grandpa for a week or two.  And maybe after Dad died. But, I remember Sallie’s wedding reception was here. So was Norman and Margaret’s.

K: Kathleen and Herb had 5 kids and quite a few grandchildren…

E: So far as Dad was concerned, there were four grandchildren, all boys. He died in 1962. I’m not sure whether the twins were born yet or not, I’d have to look it up. We had the two boys, and Sallie had two boys.

After Dad died, Aaron had two kids, Norman had four, and Albert had four. So Mom knew 14 grandchildren. She had two great-grandchildren when she died – you were the only one she met.

The old house, when you think of it… we thought it was pretty big, so I guess the house on the prairies was really small! This house was quite a lot more up-to-date than the old house!

K: So it was obviously smaller than this…

Oh yes! And there were five kids in it. I remember when Albert was born we looked out the window. We’d come home from school, and of course in those days they kept ladies in the hospital for 10 days or so. Well we looked out the window and there was the preacher, and we quickly stuffed all the papers that were lying around under the couch!

So there you go, folks. It just goes to show… the good ol’ Stash & Dash is a well-preserved family tradition!

This Is The House That Herb Built

 

 

My dad has recently scanned and sent me some old family photos, and I thought it would be nice to share a couple here. These are my great grandparents, Herb & Kathleen. I hope my grandma will chime in and let me know where they are standing – I believe this would be the original house on the property.

I never met Herb, and I don’t remember Kathleen, though I understand that there is a picture somewhere of her holding me when I was tiny. I am the only great-grandchild that she ever met, and the 3rd great grandchild living in her house (that’s four generations through this house, folks!). There is a rocking chair that was hers that was passed on to me… maybe it’s time to find a little space and move it in.