The Show.

Scooter in Hall

We were not the stars of the show.  We were more like twinkles.  I believe our trailer was longer than our segment on the show. Nevertheless, my girls and I watched HGTV Great Canadian Homes with bated breath last night.  There are some awesome homes on that show and a little glimpse of ours.

For all my friends and family far and wide around this great earth, the full show is right here for you to see.  If you are not interested in fabulous Canadian homes and want to just see me and the family then skip to minute 32:58.  It should take you about 48 seconds to watch it.

Please let me know what you think of the show.  I’d love to hear.

And, yes, Tommy did mispronounce my name.  But I forgive him after all those nice things he said about my place.

 

Bees.

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I’ve got a hive! It is only wee but it is buzzing with activity.  We’ve been wanting to keep bees since we moved here but there always seemed to be a long list of projects that took priority.  Little things like heat, clean water, a new roof, renovating 11,000 square feet, and starting a new business stole most of our attention the last few years.  It took the bees a while before they got to the top of our list.

Our project list was intentionally lighter for 2017, so I signed up for a bee keeping workshop. The workshop is being run by my neighbour Gavin, who is a master bee keeper and runs Honey Pie Hives and Herbals with his wife Bay.  The workshops are once a month for 6 months.  I’ve only completed two workshops, and look at me, I already have bees!  Really I haven’t done much since I got my bees, as I am not suppose to open the hive for another two weeks.   Bees have been taking care of themselves for centuries so I’m quite sure they are not waiting for instructions from me.

I have to admit that my sweet tooth was partially my inspiration to keep bees, but after a few hours of observation, I am finding them quite fascinating. During our workshop, Gavin opened one of his hives so we could have a look inside.  We discussed bee living while hundreds of bees flew around us.  I really wanted to take some photos, so I bravely yet cautiously took my glove off to snap some shots of pollen legs.  Bees have an arrangement of hairs on their hind legs that is referred to as a pollen basket.  When bees collect pollen, they mix it with their saliva and pack it in the hairs on their back legs so they can transport it back to their hive.  The result is some chunky bee legs in the colour of the flowers they were harvesting.  I’ve been in the bee dark most of my life and had never seen such colourful bee legs before.

Pollen Legs Red

Pollen Legs Yellow

I came home Sunday night with a box full of buzzing bees in my back seat.  I drove real slow, and rolled through every stop sign as a few bees had escaped their box and were buzzing around in my van.  Once I got home, I suited up and Jess lit my smoker for me. I kept my cool, and the transition from bee box to bee hive was a smooth one.  Now I just have to wait for the honey to roll in.

Hive Set Up

Early This Morning

Bird in Wini's Hand

We woke up extra early this morning, 5:30 a.m. to be precise.  We got dressed, tucked our pants into our socks, hopped in the car and drove 7 km south.  We arrived at a 450 acres reserve that has been donated by a local family to be used for research.  This area is not open to the public, but we were allowed to enter under the guise of volunteers.

The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory has set up a bird banding station on the reserve, and hired a guest bird bander to conduct the research.  Lucky for us, their guest bander has been staying at our bed and breakfast for the last month.  There hasn’t been much banding going on due to the cold and rainy weather, but now that the sun is out, the banding has begun!

We were the only volunteers this morning so we had a close up view.  There were 5 foot high bird nets set up amongst the trees, that looped at the bottom.  When a bird flew into the net it would fall into the bottom of the net.  It doesn’t hurt the birds, it’s more like a wee bird hammock.  The nets get checked every 20 minutes.  Lucky for us, there was an adorable Chipping Sparrow caught in the net on our first net check.  I tend to categorize all small, brown and black birds as chickadees.  It falls in line with my lifelong belief that all dogs are male and all cats are female.  Even though their junk may look different, I am still convinced that both species are monosex.

We gathered up our little Sparrow and brought it to the makeshift banding station.  His wings were measured, weight documented, age determined, and leg banded.  There is such a large variety of birds out there and therefore a wide assortment of sizes for bird bands to accommodate all leg sizes.  The most adorable bands are those for hummingbirds.  They have the tiniest legs, hence the smallest bands.  They are so small that they need to be carried on a diaper pin.

Bird Bands

After our sparrow, whom we named Cairo, did his part for research, he was placed on Wini’s hand.  He so generously paused for a photo opportunity, and then flew away.

We all fell in love a little bit this morning, with Cairo, the early morning light, and with the hidden life of birds.  We all agreed our trek was worth our shorter sleep.  Our guest bander says she had heard 47 different bird songs on our property, and has made me a list on her chalk board in her room.  We better start paying attention to our feathered friends.  Spring banding is coming to a close, but there will be more to do late summer and early fall.  And we’ll be there.

Bird in Band

Marilyn and I

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I am not a performer.  I would much rather sit amongst the crowd, than be in the limelight.  There has been quite a bit of interest from the media about our move to Milford, and our chosen digs.   The phone started ringing after our Globe and Mail article was published in January 2016.  Just last week, a television show from the U.K. and Germany have ask to film our home.  It all makes me cringe slightly.  I am flattered that people find our life choices interesting, but the thought of being on stage makes me want to lock the door, turn out the lights and draw the shades.

The Marilyn Denis Show contacted me about a year ago to appear on their show.  I kept declining as it takes a lot of effort to clean up my home, look presentable, and squash my stage fright.  They wanted to send in a film crew, and I just couldn’t bring myself to say yes.  I kept imagining that I would simultaneously throw up and pee my pants in front of the camera and crew, and then they would accidentally air my social faux pas on national television.  Just for the record, I have never done that in public before but it seemed like a rational concern at the time.

A few months back, they came up with another option.  I was to film the episode myself, and mail it in.  Now this was an option I could get my head around.  Luckily my friend Mike from Authentic Media offered to help film my M.D. spot.  Even when it was just Mike and me, I was still quite nervous.

Yesterday was my big premiere.  I got all dressed up in my track pants, and watched it with my kids last night.  It is not as bad as I had feared.  I was going to quietly let it slip under the radar, but I thought I would share it with you.  I am never going to own the stage (even though I do own a stage but you know what I mean), and be comfortable in my own skin in front of a camera.  It is not a skill I ever plan to hone.  I am going to go with generally awkward, nervous with odd hands gestures, respectively rumpled clothes, not enough make up for television, and a slightly lopsided face. Because that’s me in front of a camera, or in person because I’ve accidentally lost control of my bladder while throwing up in public.

If you’d like to peruse some celebrity homes, learn about front door makeovers, and see my clip then click here.  If you want to go right to my highlights, then skip to minute 21.

Enjoy the show!

 

 

 

I’m Alive and I’m 45!

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It is that time of year again.  The time to be showered in love and indulgences.  Forty five years ago today I was born with an I.U.D. on my head.  My parents were going to adopt after they had my brother, but that plan didn’t stop me from coming into the world.  I pushed through that barricade called birth control and asserted my independence while being completely depended on my mother’s body to grow.  I persevered, and was born. The delivery doctor gave my mom some sage advice to pass on to her daughter.  “Tell her never to use an I.U.D. as birth control.”  I’ve come back to that advice many times through my life and it has helped me become the woman I am today.  I also found the pill to be less cumbersome.

My day isn’t over yet and it has already been a hit.  My girls crawled into bed with us this morning for a family cuddle, breakfast was made for me, and I was presented with an abundance of gifts.  The best one was the bag of birdseed I won last week at bingo that my youngest wrapped up for me.  There was some general lounging, and then Wini and I took the dogs for a very windy, and chilly walk.  We lunched at The Courage in Wellington.   We were all pleased and perfectly plump after our meal.  We capped off our Wellington visit with a walk on the beach.  The frigid winds chased us back into our car mocking us for being so foolish.  But as you can see the sky was fantastic.  Much more friendlier than that damn wind.

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After a lively discussion in the car, it was decided our dessert this evening would be chocolate fondue.  Our dinner menu will be individually dressed nachos.  We don’t like our chips to touch.  All toppings that can be reasonably delivered through a piping bag will be presented as such so that each chip is it’s own masterpiece. There will be no soggy chips on this girl’s birthday!

After all our celebratory eating is complete we will all snuggle into our couch in front of the fire and watch a family movie.  I don’t think it gets better than this.  Happy birthday to me!  And here’s to another 45 years!

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How Far We’ve Come

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Recently, a film crew came to film our house.  We have been chosen as one of the 12 top homes to live in across Canada.  It seems absurd to me that we are in the same category as Justin Trudeau, Wayne Gretzky, and Alexander Graham Bell’s original home.  But who am I to judge?  I just went along for the ride.

It did make me think about the amount of work we have done to this building, and all the different stages of it’s transformation that have occurred in the last three years.  Now that we are heat stable this winter, Jess suggested we have an annual Celebration of Heat in the coldest month of the year, to remind us of how things use to be during our first winter.  The celebration would basically consist of turning off the heat, and trying to cook dinner with our winter jackets and toques on.  I think I may be skipping that party.

Below are some of the before and after shots of the old South Marysburgh Central School that we now call home.  I thought you might want to walk down memory lane with me and have a peek inside.

Outside of our Building:

Before:

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After:

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Boy’s Bathroom

Before:

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After:

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Classroom #2

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After:

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The Gym

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After:

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Backyard

Before:

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After:

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Elsa Dog

Before:

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After:

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What will the next three years bring?

 

 

 

 

Slack Turning Starts Now

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We had a friend come over the other day.  Amongst the Jameson’s, he asked us about our educational backgrounds.  As I rattled off our years of schooling, I thought about how far removed I am from that period in my life.  It is not only long ago in years, but also in ideals.  Since I was a young girl I struggled with what profession to choose.  It was always something new.  I bounced around from artist,  to marine biologist, to architect, to psychologist, to social worker, and then settled on technologist.  My post secondary schooling was long but my career wasn’t.  It got interrupted by adventures and children, as is the story of so many women.  Two degrees later, three children in three years, and some key lifestyle decisions landed us here in Milford, running our bed and breakfast, our Old School Bluegrass Camp, and the odd house concert.  I don’t think any of my schooling prepared me for this current project, but maybe it is that unknown element that drew me here.

I recently met a couple for the second time from my old neighbourhood.  They use to run The Pantry Press on Roncesvalles in Toronto.  Two years ago, they sold their home and moved into a 1990 VW camper van.  It was a temporary move, and they planned to buy a condominium in the city and settle down.  They have been travelling North America, visiting friends, going to festivals and working freelance.  They still run their business but do it mostly online.  When they have a deadline, they rent a house for a few weeks and get to work, but otherwise they are free to travel and follow their hearts.  They are currently doing an artists residency at Spark Box Studio in Prince Edward County  for the month of September.  They plan to mount an installation called Shangria-La, exploring the roadsteaders lifestyle.  They love their new way of life and can’t imagine being tied down to a piece of real estate.  The beauty of their story is that this chapter in their lives was so unplanned but so welcomed.  Neither one of them want to stop their VW camper adventure anytime soon.  You can check out their blog here.

When I peeked into their VW van, it reminded me of the days when Jess and I lived on our boat fifteen years ago.   I have to admit I was intrigued by the smallness of it all.  Living in an 11,000 square foot home comes with lots of perks but cleaning isn’t one of them.  I could whip up a VW van in a matter of minutes.  I could lounge in cleanliness with little effort.  Not having any stuff is also very appealing to me, and I know Jess would love that aspect of small living.  It made me think that maybe my current situation isn’t a forever one.  Perhaps my retirement plans should include a VW camper or a sailboat.

We have been busy around here as per usual.  I am blaming general busyness for my lack of blog posts this season.  I hope to get back on track today.  This is officially my turning my slack around post. I’ve been a prolific Instagrammer as of late, but a real lame blogger.  And by lame I mean I haven’t written many posts lately.  I don’t want you to envision me dragging around my left leg when I walk or being mocked in my cardio class because I am unable to lift my arm above my chest.

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Our Old School Bluegrass Camp was a hit again this year.  We had so much fun, with so many great people and fabulous music.  July seems so long ago, but we are already preparing for next year’s camp.  Registration will open December 1st.

Our bed and breakfast, South in Milford,  has been bustling this season which is wonderful.  We have had some lovely people stay with us.  The tourist season is settling down a bit now, which is a nice change since we are exhausted.  We mostly have guests on the weekends, which is manageable with the kids back in school.

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It was very dry here this summer.  Prince Edward County had a level 3 drought.  Many of our neighbours crops were lost.  It was a very good growing season for the vineyards, although they also struggled with the lack of water as well.  Our garden languished in the heat, and we couldn’t keep up with the watering.  Our 9 acres were yellow and crunchy to the touch.  Most of our 1500 saplings that Jess planted have died.  We have had some much needed rain recently, and the lush green landscapes have returned just in time for fair season.  We spent last weekend at the Picton Fair and we are very excited about the Milford Fair this coming weekend.  Wini will be entering a nature photograph for the photography contest, and I plan on competing in the skillet toss again this year.  I won second place last year and received a $5 prize.  I quickly reinvested that $5 at the 4H milkshake stand.  If you are in Prince Edward County this upcoming weekend come out to the Milford Fair.  It is the best show in town!

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