Welcome to the journey,the tale and the saga of our

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hey did you notice? I changed things a bit.

The photo in my header is of my quiet corner in the house. It's in the dinning area by the big picture window so I can look out to think.
Chance brought home the rocking chair as a surprise for me. I had seen in at our local Habitat for Humanity Restore, it creaks as I rock which I absolutely love. Chance's work was throwing out the furs so those came home to me as well.

On the window bench-sill- or whatever it would be called is my collection of friendly faces, wild treasures and green growing things.  You can also spy the wooden bowl Sol turned for me recently at school, it holds an emu egg. I love that bowl and how it still smells of the oil he used to polish it with. And my favorite family picture taken at a street fair.It's much like a household shrine to me.

It's a great little spot, removed from the front room with the T.V,close enough to the wood stove and at the far end of the room is the kitchen. From here keeping an eye on bubbling pots and pans in the oven is easy.


This was Sunday, Chance cut and I stacked. It was a lovely fall day, sunny with a cool wind. We cut and stacked plenty, we had heard on the news an Artic storm was coming our way later in the week.

This morning at 5:30 my phone rang, worried it was a family emergency I bolted out of bed. It was the school's automated system, there was to be a two hour delay due to snow. They call early because many kids here drive over an hour to reach school.
Front of the house
 Yup, it had snowed in the night. I guess Chance had gotten up in the night to add wood to the stove because he noticed the house was suddenly cooler.

On the back half of the property.

About an hour and a half later another call came,SNOW DAY!!!!! Our school district only gets one snow day a year, if we go over school runs later into the summer.With this in mind the dristric is cautious about calling for a snow day but keeping kids safe is a top priority.

I am glad the day was called. It has not stopped snowing since I got up. We are inching our way towards a foot of snow.

Sol has merrily excepted the invitation from his school mates to go sledding. I encouraged him to bring everyone back here for warm drinks and snacks. I hope they come, we have always had kids in and out of our house, these past few months have been quiet. I miss the goofy chatter of kids especially on a snow day.
Chance went to work this morning.I kind of wish I had gone with him.He works up towards the pass in the mountains at Suttle Lake, a gorgeous place that I would love to see covered in snow.
I took a walk to really take in the beauty. I ended up down on our bridge that crosses our creek. The banks were filling in with ice with a blanket of snow. The water was swift with chunks of snow floating by, it made me a little dizzy looking over the edge.
I took a video with my phone but Blogger doesn't seem to want to let me upload it. I will try again later. OK Looks like I am just having tech issues with Blogger today.... sigh.

Our little house is so much more snug than our old one, something I very grateful for. I really dislike being out and out cold indoors. Our old house was just cold and damp all winter,I spent many months bundled up in many layers. Here though it's just right. Yes, I am wearing a base layer and a light sweater but it's a far cry from, base layer, another layer, thick sweater, scarf and hat- everyday not just snow days.

  Yeah! The video loaded finally. There it is our icy creek, perfect for polar bears. Wanna come over for a dip? I will wait for you at the house ( half a mile away.), I'll have hot cocoa waiting and the wood stove crackling.

We have wintery weather for the next few days.I am ok with that I have no place to be that can't wait. So I will sit by the fire and watch the snow pile up.

Friday, October 24, 2014

I feel a little lame for restarting my blog and then rarely actually writing. My blog is supposed to be about homesteading but mostly what we have been up to is interior remodeling and weatherizing.Not very interesting news.So today I am going to share some thoughts which might tide us all over until something homestead-y comes along.

A few weeks ago I thought maybe there would not be any fall colors here like in the valley. We live surrounded by sage brush, evergreen trees and grasses. All of which pretty much stay green year round. But Mother Nature is always full of surprises.

Fall here is golden and full of textures. The light, Aspen trees and grasses have all turned to gold. The sage has even changed its coat, more silvery green with its branches turning darker. The Juniper and Ponderosa pines have kept their same colors but the slanted light of fall has changed the visual texture.

Up in the hills  above us live the Vine Maples who have turned to flame red a surprise in the forest filled with ever greens. Pops of color for my color loving eyes. And a bit of a touch stone for me right now, I miss knowing the names and faces of the wild things.

Even farther up the hills to the mountains are the Three Sisters who daily have more new snow covering them, makes for a new breath taking view daily. Waking up to see those lovely ladies is a motivating way to start the day.

There is also a tale of one of the best parts of Fall for us, Mushroom Hunting. It's a good one, not epic like last years haul of magnitude but a good one.

Chance and I this past weekend went up to the hills to hunt for the mushrooms that are just starting to pop up. Our friends had been the day before and gave us directions to where they had been. We were to turn at a sign for a snow park, we did find a sign for the snow park just not the right one. The one we found was the trail for snowmobiles, it was clear enough to start but then things got a little interesting. We came to a large hump,I asked Chance if we should look over the hump before going up and over.Nah, we will be fine... Well on the downside of the hump was a 30 foot almost vertical drop.And ahead another hump with boulders. This time we got out to look.The road ahead was rougher than we wanted to take so turning around needed to happen.

We were literally in a tight spot that I wasn't too sure about. All of my life I have traveled the back wild roads and for the very first time I found myself calculating how far from town we were and if we could walk back by dark. After an 8 point turn Chance got the truck facing back where we came from.

Chance put the truck into low 4 and said he could make it back up.Sure thing babe,  as for me I will walk to the top and wait. A punch to the gas and Chance was safely up and over. We got back on the main road,eventually mostly found the area we were meant to be in. We got out to scout around in likely spots with no luck. At few of the stops we would get faint whiffs of mushroom but the second you tried to pin point where it might be coming from the scent would be gone.

When we connected with our friends that night they reassured us the mushrooms were barely starting to show and they had found few. We also stopped in the local Forest rangers station in town to get a better map of the area. The lady ranger even gave us a mushroom map, local areas known to have mushrooms.

Yeah we came home empty handed but it was a beautiful day spent roaming the woods, we were happy and came home with a funny story about getting stuck. It has been raining here this week and a bit warmer at night, two things that make mushrooms happy. We hope to go back up within the next week.Which can happen even after work,15 minutes and there you are in the woods.

Hopefully this was more interesting than hearing about drywall, sanding and putting up siding. We have been cutting wood for the stove. I love watching Chance cut wood so if I can get some good photos next time we cut I will be sure to figure out a post about firewood. And maybe include a bit about my love affair with the wood stove here, love that little thing...

Lynda, thank you so much for all of your comments.They nudged me into writing and hopefully from now on I will be better about coming here.

Best Regards

Looking down onto Three Creek Lake, our favorite spot.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

List of things.

Here is my list of things figured out since moving here:

1. Bugs can be big and intimidating. And before one freaks out over them just ask the five year old who used to live in your house about them, frank answers are always shared.

Like these two, totally harmless yet big.

2.Things dry out super fast here. It seems like I take a daily bath in lotion and still my skin is dry.And food dries out fast as well,I am now searching for some containers that will work for us to store things in. Laundry is super to do,45 minutes on the line if it's hot and maybe 2 hours if just breezy until things are dry. You want fast drying laundry but that batch of cookies you just baked not so much.

3. People in town are nice and helpful in a genuine way.And since town is small you had better be nice right back because everyone here knows someone who knows you. For example the lady we met while fishing 20 miles from home, she knows our long time friends here and all ready knew all about us moving over here. We weren't even in town!

4. Deer are cute in a Bambi kind of way but it's all a front.The deer stomp dogs here all the time, even ones being politely walked on leash.

5. It is really easy to find any old excuse to play hookie from house chores here. When there are majestic mountains out every window in your house it's hard not to hear them calling. And drive 20 minutes in any direction and you are at a lake. We are doing our best to balance work and play but still use plenty of the warm weather while we can.

Even the drive to the grocery store has views.

6.Planning ahead is important. There isn't an Ikea or even an Asian grocery here so when in Portland you had better have a list ready for shopping otherwise you are outta luck. Yes, Ikea does ship but when I did do that the shipping was almost as much as what I bought. And if you are having something shipped plan ahead so it arrives on time. ( Also so far FedEx can't always find our house so add in that delay.)

7. Mention Ocean Rolls from the farmers market to anyone in town and a blissful smile breaks out on their face.It's a good thing the market is only on Fridays and I haven't found the bakery in Bend yet, otherwise I would  be as big as those mountains.

8. It's windy here often, great for laundry, keeping the house cool, most likely contributing to my dry skin, blows things an acre or more away if not weighted down and is the best lullaby.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Almost September?

Wow, I haven't been back here in a few weeks,what have we been up to?

Well..we had a freak flash flood here right after my last post. I was home alone painting cupboards and thinking how I was glad our little dog seemed to be used to the sound of rain and hail on our metal snow roof when things took a turn towards chaos.

Mellow rain and tiny hail turned to pouring rain and grape sized hail with huge clacks of thunder and lighting.Then all of a sudden little dog was not too happy and pacing the bathroom floor. I went in to pick her up to reassure her everything was fine but she had a good reason for being upset.There was water bubbling up in the bathroom sink,not over flowing and when you live in the desert and the rain is pounding down I suppose it has to go somewhere?
I returned to the kitchen/dining room greeted by a big splat of water on the head and wet feet.Water was coming in from floor and ceiling. Ok,grab some towels and pots to hold it all back.
Then again little dog is pacing in the bathroom this time by the laundry room door.Open the door to three inches of water ,grab the new vacuum before it gets any wetter and pray the water will go down the drain in the floor when the rain stops.
Call Chance at work,he's stuck there for a while longer,they had a full house.Well get here ASAP would you? I mean come on if things keep up I don't know what I am going to do I am out of towels and pots or bowls.

 Meanwhile it's 45 minutes later and the storm is still pounding.Phone rings,it's my Mom ,I tell her the tale of water coming in. Honestly all one can do is laugh at this point,comedy is just the way to go when things get tough. I walk into our room to squish between the toes,Ummm Mom? I need to go,I will call you back. Three inches of water in our room too! Thank goodness it's a concrete floor and we have a door that opens to the out doors.
So I grabbed the mop,opened the door and started to push the water out the door. Chance is finally home! We move the furniture out of our room and finish shoving the water out.
By that time the rain and hail had stopped,the water in the laundry room had gone down on its own and my huge claw foot tub was now full of wet soggy bedding and towels.
Once we caught our breath we looked out side to see about 3 inches of hail on the ground and hovering above it an eerie blanket of thick fog. We can hear heavy equipment sounds coming from our neighbors behind us who live in a bit of a gully,that's not good.And we could hear their cow bellowing like it was not too happy about its evening being so rudely interrupted.
Our hens fared just fine. Although I will admit there was no way in hell I was going out to make sure they had put themselves in.Their temporary coop is made from tin and there was lighting going on,survival of the fittest was what I was all about at the time.

Nothing was lost,the vacuum dried out just fine and I spent a couple of days doing laundry.All over the property though you can still see storm damage.Our gravel road is now pretty rough in spots but Chance is going to have time soon to see if he can rake the spots out to make them at least a bit better.

Other than that it's been lots of company coming to visit.It's been fun showing our friends and family some of the places we have already found that we like.And I am trying to save  the goodness of having a houseful of people because soon there will be snow and no one will want to come over the pass to see us until Spring.

The flood did totally change our schedule for projects. Obviously we are now focused on making sure outdoor projects are done before the weather changes. The landlord is working with us to get the roof repaired so it won't leak again. We have wood to cut and stack,a very important task when you heat with wood. The storm was a freak thing and not likely to happen again soon but we want to make sure the house is weather tight once again.Having sat empty for over a year it needs some loving.  

I am finally feeling settled in and back to baking and have done some small canning . Chance has been busy doing lots of different lacto- fermentation,pickles, pineapple vinegar and sour corn (made like sauerkraut but with corn).
I must admit we both did a small little dance when we noticed the vinegar had grown a Mother,which is that weird looking blob you see in some vinegar or kambucha. We will be able to save it and use to make future batches of vinegar.

There's some foraging for wild edibles on our radar,meat curing and stringing green beans to make leather strap beans.
We have been watching a show called "The mind of a chef" season 2, a PBS program
about cooking and some of the science behind it. We were indifferent to the first season but season 2 has a chef named Sean Brock that we are really learning some interesting things from. Mr Brock has certainly put a spark back into our lust for getting back to basics,canning and preserving.

Still not a lot of homestead type projects going yet but now that we feel more settled that is about to change.I really am excited about what we will come up with here in this new place and environment.

Next week young Sol will start school,he's returning to public school to finish up high school.He's looking forward to meeting the local kids and being a part of the Americana Project at school.

Has the light changed at your house? It has here,looking more like fall light all of a sudden.And the birds have changed who is here now.My most favorite surprise birds are the Magpies, I love them and have never really gotten to see them being their noisy selves so closely before. What are the wild things up to at your house?

Until next time

P.S Did I tell all of you? We have a room mate,he's a fairly quiet fellow who mostly keeps to himself and very handsome.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

D.I.Y Screen door.

 This past weekend Chance built us a new screen door. We had been searching for a recycled one at the local Habitat Restore with no luck.The big box stores didn't have any that were what we wanted to spend.Also being us we wanted form and function, something you don't find at a mega store.

We are surrounded by livestock,a fact that no matter how clean a farm is kept you are going to end up with flies. Our little house has amazing cross breezes that really help keep the house cool.The windows are screened but without a screen door the flies were coming in on a swarm level. Icky, yeah they just fly but no one wants to think about flies and what their purpose is.

Chance and I went to the hardware/lumber store and purchased a large sheet of outdoor grade plywood and some metal screen they sell by the foot, this came to about $35. Next we went around to the Restore and found all of the hardware we needed.We lucked out that day was a 50% off everything day so the total came to a whopping $4.

Chance used our grove of Quaking Aspen trees for his inspiration, his first step was drawing and cutting out of paper a large leaf to use as a stencil.

Once the leaves were stenciled on he took the drill and drilled a hole along the line of the stencil, this was the starting point for doing the cutting. Next he used his jigsaw and cut out both leaves.

We then cut pieces of the window screening that were large enough to cover the cut outs, leaving a few inches all around the cut outs.Chance then stapled the screen down to the wood. Once this was done using a pair of scissors I cut away the extra screen, leaving about an inch of screen beyond the line of staples.

The photo above is one of the leaves, while Chance was doing some sanding I started to dream up a way to use the cut outs.They are nifty little treasures and have been set aside until we can think of a place or use for them.

Our house is owner built and has over the years done some settling, nothing worrisome just a fact of houses we sometimes forget. While Chance was working on hanging the screen door the settling of the house became apparent quickly, it took some more sanding to get the door to fit and hang properly. This extra fiddling around made us happy that we hadn't bought a ready made door,espicially if it had been a metal one, it probably wouldn't have fit.

Extra fiddling done and a couple of coats of linseed oil the door was finished. It only took a couple of hours to do which is a lot less time than it took our old dog Thora to figure out which side opens. Happily, the door is too heavy for the dogs to push open but since it opens from a different direction than the door old dog had to learn something new.
If you look closely at the photo you can see how the linseed oil really brought out the grain in the wood. There was no way to plan that out but we were very happy that the lines of the grain just happened to add a layer of organic lines to our new door.
I wish my camera would take a photo at night. We have under lit the eves with little string lights and if at night the door is open between the string lights and the screen door cut outs it's lovely with a soft glow of warmth and homey-ness.
We came in under budget so with the extra money I am watching on EBay for a just right push plate for the inner side of the door. A push plate is the metal plate you see on doors that push open, they keep the wood clean from finger prints ect. I had no idea those plates had a name until this project and then last night I found out in the UK they are called finger plates.Anyway random trivia ....So I am searching for a vintage push plate something artsy or interesting to add another interest point to the door. I will be sure to post when I find the one that is just right.
The only other news I have is I went Huckleberry picking with my friend and her kids. The season is just starting,I came home with about 2 1/2 cups of berries. I am sitting on the fence between freezing them with the hopes of picking more so I can make jam or maybe just bake something with what I have.
Speaking of canning, the local natural food store here,a place I love BTW, offers canning boxes of produce at a reduced price.When I was in the store the other day the list was up for what is available. I will have to wait until Friday to place my order since the owner is in charge of these boxes and is gone until then. I am excited about this service, I was wondering about u-picks and farms to get canning items from. At least for this year this will be the way to go, our feet will be more firmly planted next year along with our own garden.
Today is all about books and learning.We are taking Sol to enroll for school and later I am finally going to go get a library card.
Until next time

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Moving away thoughts for Stacysix.

Stacysix left me a comment for my last posting,she asked me if I missed Portland and my friends there.
The city and friends is something Chance and I talked a lot about before we made our choice to leave.

We both realized that by staying there were many important things to us that we would have give up because of the housing market in Portland. Finding housing with a yard and a garage was slim chances. We would also have to give up full time homesteading life.

We could have given up a yard fairly easily.Many friends offered if we ended up close to them places to garden so we could still grow our own food.We had been thinking about taking a break from having hens so they could have been re-homed.

But the no garage was not a choice we could make.Chance uses so many of his tools either for work at his job or for side jobs,we would loose income.Replacing a life times collection of tools would be hard to do and expensive.

There were also the scooters.Yes,a luxury to some degree but Chance had been riding his full time for transportation.Leaving scooters parked on the street,in a driveway or a parking lot is a high risk to theft.

As far as the city itself went,take it or leave it. We are not consumer type people so much of the city we didn't even use. Eating out is not a big deal to us so that we wouldn't miss.We can watch for special events we may want to go to and plan to come up for them.

When it came down to our friends that had and still has it's moments. Yes,we have friends but we didn't live in each others pockets so seeing them sporadically was the norm. We are only a little under 3 hours from Portland,that's an easy enough hop over to see people. There were moments before we left that where tough but we knew by making this choice we were keeping on the path we had set ourselves on. We may be off grid but we still have phones and the internet to stay connected too.

We also made a deal with ourselves and each other,once a month we would come up to Portland. Just so we could keep relationships with people going and that way if we were really missing something we could get a fix of whatever it may be.

So far for me the most frustrating thing has been not knowing where anything is in Bend.I had lived in Portland my whole life,the city is mapped on an easy to follow grid  unlike Bend. I now do know where some places I will use are and when I look up an address I can kind of tell which end of town and which side of the highway it is,sort of,maybe....sigh. I will get it! I said to Chance "If Debbie and her family can move to Hong Kong I can do this!" Good thing I love maps.

We do have our close friends here so we are not totally alone.They have been very helpful when we have had questions.And the people in Sisters are a friendly community,all you have to do is say hello and then ask for their help and they are willing if able.It is funny though,Sisters is small,everyone at least knows you by face, I have lost count of how many times we've been asked "are you guys new in town?" It's never said rudely but with curiosity,so far people have been welcoming. I don't know,it could be our love of head to black clothing that gives us away,what do you think?

The hardest part to leaving though was leaving Issac.Yes,he made the choice to stay in Portland to move towards his own  adventures but I still really struggle with him newly out on his own just as we move across the state. He's doing great and calls weekly which helps but I still miss his face and smile.

I hope this answers your question Stacysix. It's a mixed box for sure but so far so good with no need to spit any chocolates out.

Ok next post I will have figured out our new computer so I can post pictures.This dang thing is just different enough and I still have things to load onto it that my eyes are poppping out over it.Until then imagine waking up to the wind in the trees and a view of a magnificent mountain range right out your window.