Sunday, November 26

Find Us on Instagram!

We're home!  Back on the land after 5 months in Hong Kong.

I know this is supposed to be the fourth post in my promised 4-part series.  But. While in Hong Kong, I learned about Instagram (yes... I know... I'm a bit of a tech-tard).  Writing posts is always a bit daunting when there is so much catching up to do... so then I procrastinate... and then there is more to update... and so I procrastinate some more... You get the picture.

So I've decided to move to Instagram.  I love taking photos and this way, the posts are much less intimidating because they can be short (or long!) I imagine I'll still use this platform for longer posts (maybe), but for now...

Find out where we left off here on INSTAGRAM:

Saturday, August 5

Homesteading 103: People

I'm finally able to sit down and write the third part of our little Homesteading series.  I'm writing this from the other side of the world in the tropical jungle of Hong Kong where we have been since April (yes, yes, more on that another time!). Suffice to say, we have been a little busy exploring the jungle + meeting wildlife (snakes, boars, lizards, cockroaches etc!) + swimming in the South China Sea (pretty much daily since the HOT weather hit (which was pretty much right after we arrived!)

But back to the land...

So when we finally got possession of the land, we had the trailer (yah!), but as mentioned, no running water or electricity.  So the lake became our playground (in the heat) and also our shower/bathtub!
Thank you Nature for always providing!

So what were the girls doing during all this excitement of road building, trench digging and construction?  Well... Life continued as usual (with a few more machines in the background!).
L* having her afternoon snack while the excavator did its thing
Watching all the action with the excavator's pooch.
(Yes, we also (successfully) potty trained during this time!!)
Snacking on peaches during the trailer's interior 'deconstruction' time
Apples in the sunshine
We discovered a toy library in our new town.  Amazing!  There are bins of theme based toys - often including games + books along with the toys.  I could take out 3 bins at a time, so it was a weekly ritual to get 'new' toys.  This is perfect for us, since we want to encourage creative play as much as possible, so we don't have many manufactured toys (not to mention no space to store it), so the toy library provides a good balance of (temporary) plastic + Nature.
Dress-Up Bin
Mr. Potato Head Bin
Our land became one big giant sand box!  This provided hours of entertainment.
The girls spent a lot of time exploring the land and being creative by playing with all that Nature has to offer.  But we did also venture into town, and often stopped at the playground.

During my permaculture design course, I was away each day, all day for 2 weeks.  tBoy managed the girls and the dogs and all that needed to be done.  He had to prioritize, and bathing was certainly not high on the list!  So I often came home to some pretty dirty (but happy + healthy) kids!
I brought home 'treats' (fruit) from the permaculture farm each
night during my permaculture design course.
And the girls got fruit identification lessons
Yep, our family grew again... and now we are 7 (more on this in the next post).  The little black and white was the new addition.  So our daily walks with the crew was never without adventure.  It is lovely to just go and explore on the land.

We have moved away from sidewalks (yah!)  But, we found a way to have our own 'sidewalk' chalk.  Sticks on the gravel road :)!

So many walks in our forest neighbourhood
tBoy teaching the girls to mountain bike on the land.
And yes, it is 'mountain' bike because of the terrain and the slope(!)

Private bouldering lessons
"This way to the music, mommy!"
Little walk in the forest with the pups
before heading to a harvest festival in a nearby town.
Construction site playground

Inoculating logs with mushroom spores!
(Attire completely intentional:
A* has a special recycled bubble wrap crown - made all by herself,
L* has her 'forest adventure' backpack on)
Walks along the river
We started out in the Summer and it was HOT.  The lake was amazing for cooling us down.  It was not uncommon to go for a few swims in one day.  We have access to private lakefront through our neighbour's property (with permission, of course), so we are only a 10-minute walk away.  However Summer slowly turned into Fall and the temperatures gradually decreased.  We still didn't have electricity yet - which meant no heat!  We did have propane heat, but it used up a lot of fuel, so we bundled up instead! 
Many layers for bedtime!
2 sweaters and 2 pairs of pants happening here
Hitching a ride on the wheelbarrow 
First Halloween on the land.  Pumpkin carving.  Girls did most of the work!  We separated the seeds and roasted them on the wood stove.  That was the 'treat' for them this Halloween.  I'm grateful that they don't know to ask for sugary treats yet!  (Definite perk of living in the woods!!)
So focused!
And then it was Winter.

First Christmas on the land.  We don't celebrate Christmas, per se, but our lovely friends invited us to their place for dinner, and so the girls did a gift exchange with their girls (same age as ours!)  We did homemade wrapping (below) by painting newspaper and the girls chose one book from their collection to gift to each of their friends (sharing + recycling).

Along with the season, came the snow.  Lots and lots of snow (record amounts in fact).  Our projects were put on hold.  tBoy tried to keep working until all his tools were covered in white stuff (we didn't have time to build a workshop) so eventually, he had to give in to Nature's cycles.
Someone tried skiing for the first time
Horse carriage rides in the snow during a winter festival.
Learning life skills at an early age!
Check out that arrow!  Never too young :)!
Slippers arrived in the mail!  Perfect for little cold feet.
And before we knew it, 2017 arrived.  In February someone had a birthday!

As for tBoy.  He has been working hard!  First to create trails for water and electricity, then with all the building projects.
When we decided to hire help for the construction projects, tBoy wanted to hire someone who was willing to have an apprentice (tBoy!). And hire such a person, we did.  Our amazing carpenter is a master builder and mentor and is now a good friend!  tBoy has learned a lot! (And has so much more to learn, of course!)
Building a roof on the trailer to prevent snow load
Interior work
Preparing for Winter
As for me, tGirl.  Well... apart from being the one to take the photos (!), I was busy with kids, dogs and the interior of the trailer.  Sorry... no photos of myself at work!  We had a rather frenetic Summer and Fall, trying to get as much done as possible before Winter (and to prepare for Winter).  We looked forward to the repose that Winter brings, but I have to admit that after the initial rest, we got a bit of cabin fever!  

I recently read a quote on a Homesteading website:
"I"m sorry for the things I said in Winter."
That made tBoy + me laugh really hard.  We can relate!  Maybe that means we are part of the club (new members, but members nonetheless!)

Hope your summer is amazing!  I'll leave you with a little country style from little L*...
L*: Who's not so little anymore and is growing like a weed.
And... well... you know...
Us 'homesteading' folk...
We LOVE weeds!
And me... tGirl in the tropics...
Attempting to ride my mountain bike in this HEAT!
(Yes, my pups and my Knolly made the trek to the other side of the world!)
Another Day.  Another swim in the Sea.

Sunday, April 23

Homesteading 102: Home

So where are we living these days?  How did we go from school bus to house to... trailer?!  Well.  When we sold our house and bought a raw piece of land (i.e. land with no house), we were technically homeless.  We saw it coming, of course... so we had some time to plan for it... sort of!  The sequence of events was as follows...

We sold our house on the Coast and packed up all our stuff and headed to the interior.  We didn't get possession of our new property for 2 and 1/2 weeks.  So for the first week, we rented the cabin where we stayed when we came searching for land...

We only had it for a week because it was the middle of Summer, so the cabin was booked.  When we headed away from the Coast we didn't know where we would sleep for the 10 days before we got possession of the land.  We also didn't know where we would sleep when we got possession since there was no house on it.  Our loose plan was that hopefully there would be a spot for us at the Provincial Campground (which is fully booked months in advance, but did have several overflow sites, one of which we hoped to get - but we had to go in person the day before... so we had no guarantee!).  Also in that time, we hoped to find a trailer through Craig's List or something... :)!  Oh, and did I mention that we only had a 2-person tent (even though we had 2 kids and 2 dogs too).  We hadn't equipped our lives for camping with 2 kids yet.

So what happened?!  It all worked out :)!  We spent a lovely week in the cabin.  tBoy's mom was with us as she was visiting from France.  When she bought her ticket, we didn't know we were selling our house and moving, so she came along for this adventure!  (So helpful with the packing and moving!) We got a chance to show her why we love this place. While at the cabin, we made use of the WiFi (there was no cell reception) to search for a trailer.  We bought the first one that we saw! We then managed to get a spot at the campground (showers, cell and WiFi reception, but no electricity to charge our phones) where we stayed until the day we got possession of the land and moved the trailer there the same day.  Phew!!

We considered different options for our new home: yurt, another tiny home, canvas tent, rental house in town (nah, we wanted to be on the land!)... and ultimately decided on a trailer.  Why?  Because it is move-in ready: plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation (sort of) etc.  Honestly, it is actually the original tiny home!

Ok. Admittedly, the decor... Ugh the decor!  But we knew that we were going to gut it and fix it up... Yikes, there was so much brass!  And nasty wallpaper!!

Those window coverings! And the couch! And the wallpaper!
These were everywhere- why?!
Seriously, the brass was never-ending!
There was even an entertainment unit with a massive TV (not a flat screen) and a built in stereo.  No thanks - haven't had TV for over 15 years. 

I don't have many photos of "before" as I was not inspired to take photos!
Trailer conversion to cozy home - First we ripped out ALL the fixtures... all the brass (yah!)
During the "renos", the entertainment area was the girls' room
Bye bye stereo speakers and cabinet doors
tBoy wanted to line the inside of the trailer with wood like the bus, but I decided to go with colour instead: Teal!

Juggling taping, priming (wait to dry), first coat (wait to dry), second coat and real life (such as feeding kids, dogs and ourselves etc.) was not fun.  We lived in a mess (below) for what seemed like forever!!  Oh.  And during this whole time, we had no water or electricity. 

Once all the walls were painted, it was time to get rid of more brass!  All the cabinet handles, knobs and hinges had to go!
Bye bye brass!
 Make-over time: RED!
Nothing a little spray paint can't fix
And then it was time to tackle the flooring.  Carpet-be-gone!!
Yes, that's a puppy trying to be helpful.  Not to to worry, no one was hurt.
tDog2 was a bit attached to the carpet!
TADA!  New flooring looks so much better :)!
As for those cabinet handles and knobs...
And the spray painted hinges...
Even the inside of the cabinets got painted...

VoilĂ !  Our hOMe :)!
The eating nook and the kitchen 'island' for food prep
The livingroom
The kitchen
tGirl's office
The master bedroom
The shower (also with a skylight above like the bus)
Remember the add on?  What's inside?
Completed exterior photos coming soon!
It's part mudroom (for jackets, shoes and gear) and part sitting area to warm up by the wood stove...  tBoy finally got his wood stove :)!  And it also contains the girls' room...
Isn't she adorable?  (We still need to do the tiling below her)
Cozy up by the wood stove with a floor to ceiling window to enjoy the view
Pocket door decorated by tBoy that leads into girls' room.  On the right is the original entrance to the trailer.
A*'s bed (L*'s bed will be added above to make a custom bunk - not yet completed)
Girls' dresser and book/toy/craft/art shelf
So there you have it folks.  Our new 'cabin' in the woods.  It's about 600 square feet which is three times the size of the bus, but our family has grown from three to seven!! (Yes, seven... more on that soon!)

Coming up: Homesteading 103: People (that's us!)