Monday, 12 December 2011

Winter Greens

This story is as much about a husband's love as it is about making your winter home a little more green.  Without Hubbie, none of this would have been nearly as wonderful nor as successful. 
He is too good to me!

Streeeetch! This photo just won't come out right - ah well...

This late November I asked Hubbie if we could hike out to the old farmhouse at the back of our property to gather more wonderfully aged wood for me to use for my winter woodworking projects. I had made some rudimentary backpacks last year so we headed out with a saw and the backpacks.

The squirrels hide apples in the crooks of trees or even impale them on branches - very amusing

We carefully pulled-out pieces and Hubbie cut them into manageable sizes  for the backpacks.

Is this not the most magnificent vintage green and red combination? The colours of the exterior of this old house.

This time we found a huge, heavy piece which I'm not sure what I'll do with and I was very hesitant to have hubbie drag it home - it's 89 acres straight back from our house...Bless him though, he trudged through fields and forests struggling with this heavy load which swayed back and forth and finally, a strap broke on his backpack. How lucky am I to have such a great guy? We got really warm and were pooped by the time we arrived home but now I have a nice supply of wood.

What do I do with all this wood? Well I have made many frames for homemade chalkboards and shelves for the house and stools. I realize this is most likely lead paint so I am very careful in my method of cleaning and using this wood and add a sealant to keep the pieces safe when necessary. Young children are extremely susceptible to lead poisoning so I'd never make anything from this wood that would be handled by a child.

The first project for the newly gathered wood was a little bird cut-out. I knew I'd find something pretty in this lovely book by Caroline Zoob (see photo below) - I adore this book! The bird design was meant for an applique to sew onto a quilt.

The last time I read about Caroline Zoob, she and her husband were living in the house that belonged to Virginia Wolf (the writer) and acting as tenant/curators to the estate. It is called Monk's house. I've seen photos of Caroline's sewing room - be still my heart! Sweet, simple and filled with vintage pieces she uses in her beautiful work. It's hard to believe she was thrown out of needlework classes in elementary school - she didn't sew again until she was in her 30's and friends began having children for which she began to sew gifts - her style is so sweet and uses vintage textiles, buttons, lace and even quotes from vintage children's books.

Gathering the greens...and pining for red berries...

This past week I announced to Hubbie that I was going on a hike for my annual 'gathering of greens' walk. Hubbie wanted to come along (he loves being outdoors and he worries I'll get lost) so we went together and of course, he gathered twice as much as I did.   I then headed out for some red dogwood at the wetter section of our land. We don't get big pinecones on our land and I yearned for a bunch of red berries but we have never seen any on our land .

Driving home from my excursion to the new Ikea store in Ottawa I noticed bunches of shrubs with red berries on them in the ditches and medians all along the highway - I could not possibly stop to pick them but they got me to looking for some closer to home - and I found some but they were about 10 feet from the side of the road in about 12 inches of water - rats. I tried to get them and contemplated getting a proper 'soaker' as the price for the berries but then I decided against it and went home moaning to Hubbie that I was 'that' close to getting my red berries. Well the next day, Hubbie took the boys for a drive into town and brought some snippers and didn't he find me a small bunch of red berries - how sweet is that? He drove all over the place and finally reached a spot where it wasn't too wet and snagged a modest amount and they are that much more special to me as I know what went into getting them to me.

Poor little bee-girls, I worry every time I look at the hives...

A bit of red dogwood by the old fence

Equipped with secateurs, wire, my newly cut bird (on my wonderful band saw) and a funny audience of Hens - I was ready to make my swags.

Some years I gather a bunch of grapevine to make wreaths and garlands. I also have stuffed old milk cans with natural bits of green and red but this year I kept it simple and made swags for the house. The star of the show being the centre swag with the wee birdie and the precious berries.

Watcha doing Mama?
 I assembled while squawking to the Hens and breathed-in that crisp fresh air. The land is so very quiet when it's is this cold out - frozen and hard, the only sounds are the crunch of my boots in the snow, the cheeps of the birds at our feeders and the constant chatter of the curious hens. A perfect afternoon.

Indoors, I planted my Amaryllis bulb and I watch it grow a little every day. It will flower in the bleakest time of the year when a giant flower is most welcome - this one will be a blush-pink colour. I had planned to order some Narcissus bulbs but so far have not - at least I'll have the Amaryllis.

Amaryllis growing in the sunniest windowsill in the house.

Jack is doing great!

Here he is hugging his bottle of Strawberry Ensure which he gets daily for now (in his food) to try to put on some weight - he will never be as uhm, shall we say solid as Charlie (no ribs showing on that boy!)  but he is filling-out nicely and is a very happy boy. 

Sweet sweet Jack Jack with his strawberry 'milkshake' bottle

Jack would like to wish you a sweet strawberry milkshake kinda day!


  1. Stunningly beautiful with just the right amount simplicity; where's the like button!?!

    Your Hubbie is definitely a keeper!

  2. Iroick, if you lived close bye I'd make you a birdie too! Thank you so much (blush)- you are too sweet. Hope the cookies didn't burn and that you got them all done and ready to be gifted!

  3. I live in Toronto - it's far enough.

    Got all the cookies done, wrapped and delivered...but was a tad optimistic about getting the house decorated too. We'll be doing that this week.

    Hi to Jack Jack and crew!

  4. Another beautiful project, I love it!
    Your DH really is an amazing guy, such a blessing...

    The crisp cold air is really refreshing.

    Jack Jack <3
    Hope you all have a great day!

  5. I'm in awe whenever I look at your homestead. And bless Kyle for being so helpful bringing in the wood supplies. Love the little wooden bird and red berries. And the photo of the hens lined up watching. And of course, sweet Jack who looks so happy, awww xx

  6. Lizzy, I'm an much more in awe of what you can create and draw but thank you! Hope the open house was fun and that you enjoyed some treats even if you are being so very good.

    IHeartDogs, surely you have lots of greens and such to gather in your neck of the 'woods' - we keep getting snow and then rain, phooey, I want a little white out there...just a bit...My crew says hello to yours!

    Iroick, yep, Toronto is not next door but it's not that far either. I think it's a 5 hour drive for us (more or less). I love decorating last minute - enjoy your week of fun pulling out the trinkets :-)

  7. Sooooooo envious! Envious of your supply of reclaimed wood, and envious of your artistic ability! Love it!