Snapshots of Moments- A Tour of Our Life in 2013

Goodbye 2013. You brought so much change, hope, love, laughter and hard moments. It is so easy to neglect all that we have done and accomplished in light of how much there is yet ahead for the next year. So, for my own sake I thought I would write at least one moment for each month of 2013 that stood out. Here’s our 2013 Journey.

January 2013

Alex goes on his first ever Missions Trip to the Dominican Republic with a group of men. They built a pole-barn structure for a YWAM camp.

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DR Jan 2

February

This month brought lots of trips back and forth checking our the progress of our new home being built. We had hopes of moving in as early as Feb but it didn’t happen.

House Feb

March

Elyse’s First Easter! The girls even had matching dresses and coats!

March Easter

April

April brought our long awaited moving day into the new house!! April 16th we were given the keys and we promptly drove “Home”.

Moving April 16

Moving april 16 2

May

We got moved in and then instantly got running on two feet! We started building the garage for Alex to store all his man-tools in! Oh…and Elly also ate her first hot wing at her Uncle Nicholas’ birthday party!

May Garage

May Elly

June

With all kinds of left over building materials from the garage…we built our first bon fire. Yes, marshmallows were involved ūüôā

June Campfire

July

We celebrated our baby girl turning the big One! We also harvested our first zucchini out of the small garden we started as soon as we moved in.

July Elly Bday

July Zuchini

August

Wow, this was an exciting month! We found out we were going to be adding a new addition to the Monroe household! A new farm-hand! We also got started (and finished) building the fence that surrounds our “back yard”.

Aug Baby Annc

Aug Fence Building

September

This was a fairly quiet month. We needed some respite from the crazy summer projects. Little projects here and there and finishing up loose ends. Lea is practicing taking care of babies in an effort to get ready for her coming baby brother. And we continued to enjoy our country views…

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Sept Views

October

Got the fall garden going, although it didn’t amount to much as it turns out. We also got our wheat planted and some garlic planted. Most exciting is that we harvested our summer crop of Sweet Potatoes. That was a blast!

Oct Sweet Taters

November

Gearing up for the wintertime. Winterizing all the mowers and such. Just random projects here and there around the homestead this month. Not much you feel like doing when its starting to dip into the 30’s and 40’s. But…that’s why we have a fireplace! We tried out the fireplace in the den for the first time!

Nov Fire place

December

Welcome Christmas!! Our First Christmas in the new home! That was fun and exciting! We haven’t had a live Christmas tree in a few years now since we’ve been moving around so much. It was refreshing to have a real tree this year! We thoroughly enjoyed our Christmas time off (except for a few days of sickness!).

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Onward!

That’s it! What a lot we accomplished in a year! New houses, new babies, new memories! We are looking forward to 2014 with anticipation of what is to come this year. I have big hopes and dreams, hopefully I will get some time to sit down and write those out so we can look back again in 12 months!

For now…Welcome 2014!!¬†

 

Kitchen Updates and Critters

Not much has been going on around here, which is probably why the blog is quiet lately. Nothing entirely new going on around here. The past few weeks have been tiring for me as I am trying to keep up with the two littles running around like wild Indians most days and growing another person inside me. It’s a challenge. Sometimes I think I am crazy. No, actually most of the time I think I am crazy.

After such a busy spring and summer, it almost feels awkward not having much to do around the homestead. Not that there’s not a lot to do, but mostly we just don’t want to be out in the cold! Wimps I guess. We did start painting the house inside. We got the kitchen painted and fabric picked out for the new curtains in the kitchen. We also painted the kids/guest bathroom and are decorating that! It does feel so good to finally be in a house where I feel motivated to decorate, coordinate colors and care. Since we sold our first house, we have been in less than permanent spaces and didn’t feel like wasting energy or money in making things look just right! So, now I’m happy to be able to be home where I can build our life and beautiful things.

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In addition to painting, we received some new beautiful furniture hand crafted by Alex’s Dad! It’s beautiful and matches our colors nicely! He made me a pot-rack, two end tables for the living room and a entry way bench with baskets for taking off shoes. I feel like things are starting to come together!! My kitchen is officially my favorite place in the house, and I am SO glad we went with a home design that included a big kitchen. I would not trade that for anything. Not to mention my picture window to watch the sunrises while cooking up pancakes.

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Speaking of kitchens…we have had a big of a saga this past week and a half…the mice found another way in and have been rather active (to say the least). Thankfully we are catching them as soon as they come in, so we don’t have to deal with them scurrying around the house (for now at least!). We are debating ways to help control this mouse issue, but for now we have a nice new chore to add to our mornings and evenings-taking out the mouse traps! I had a bit of a meltdown the first week it was going on (as we caught over 30 in one week). Seems to have started to back down in numbers now and it is much more manageable. I know I was thoroughly warned about this problem, no one can really help you prepare for that. I guess I never thought it would be that bad. Well, now I know they aren’t kiddin.

Aside from the mouse problem, everything else is fine and dandy. Only thing growing the garden right now is lettuce and collards. Garlic shoots are huge now and the wheat is just chillin doing its thing. Alex is going to start hunting with a friend, and I am so blast darn excited. I am seriously praying he gets a deer this year as we are nearly out of bulk meat in our house and it would be a huge blessing to our budget if we could get some close-to-free meat. Come on babes! Never thought I would be a hunting mans wife, but alas, we are here and free meat is happy meat. I will be doing a very happy happy dance if he gets one.

Other than that its been all Fall around here! Bread baking, pumpkin carving, watching the lemon tree bloom again!

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photo 5Well, that’s probably enough of an update. I’ll try to have more exciting updates soon.

 

Garage Finished! Garden Growing!

I am happy to announce that the workshop/garage is finished! We are still awaiting on the final inspection, so there may be a few little tweaks here and there. Alex still needs to build all of his tool benches, cabinets, etc but the rest is done!! It feels like forever ago that we started this project and it sure has been a long, hard project. It turned out fantastic though and is going to be a great space for Alex to build me all my requested tables, chairs, cabinets, etc!

Garage is Built!

The garden is finally growing too! It was slow to take off, but I think it is finally getting somewhere! I have my very first zucchini growing! I am so happy and elated that everything didn’t die! I find that it is such a joy to watch something I grow from a small seed mature into an edible, nourishing food! I can honestly savor those first bites of vegetables out of the garden with such great appreciation. I went ahead and bought a few more tomato plants the other day because I just felt like 3 tomato plants wasn’t enough. I wasn’t able to successfully grow my tomatos from seed, but I think that was because I didn’t start the seedlings early enough in the season and I think they went through transplant shock when I planted them. I am learning now! Everything else growing was from seed, with the exception of my sweet potato slips. I also replanted some carrot seeds to see if those will take since I didn’t have luck earlier in the season with those. We will see!!

Other than that we have just been busy with little projects here and there. The next big project on the horizon is the fence! We have bought all the materials for the fence and are just waiting for our farmer friend to come out and plow the land for us. Currently we are about waist high in weeds, so we really need his help to get those weeds under control so we can mow our yard with our mower. The rest he will take care of for us as we talked about in a previous post. But…we are still waiting on that, so fence can’t go up until that happens. Hopefully this week he will have time to do that!!

That’s about it for now!

Our First Month (and some) [Homestead Update]

I thought it would be appropriate to try to keep track of how things are going and how we are progressing on our homestead goals. We’ve been here a little over a month now (moved in April 20th). Feels like its been longer than that!

-Our biggest project has definitely been building the garage/workshop. We are finally wrapping it up, just a few more things to do on it. I know I am pleased with how it turned out, and I know Alex is ecstatic about finally having a place to store all of his tools. I will be so happy when they are out of my living room!! I am looking forward to him being able to build me some bookshelves or other projects for things around the house! Now we need a table saw!

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-The second biggest project has been getting the garden in. I know this is a learning year so things aren’t moving along as quickly as I had hoped, but all is not lost yet! My plants are finally growing, and I am hoping they will “take off” here shortly. We have been getting plenty of rain and my woodchips are working beautifully I hardly ever have to water. I did go an get a load of mushroom compost last week and spread a few inches on the garden, I am hoping that will help them along. So far I have 3 tomato plants, about 7 squash plants, 4 cuke plants, 11 sweet potato plants, 6 pepper plants, a couple acorn squash, watermelon, and pumpkins growing. Oh and a basil plant. I have some seedlings to plant as well that are a few more tomatoes and some more herbs. Overall, I am happy with how things are going!

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-We are mostly unpacked, all except books really and craft stuff. I need shelves badly! We are still trying to figure out what to do with our spare bedroom, which is currently where all of our storage stuff is. I think we are going to turn it into a craft/sewing room for now until we need it for more kids. LOL (no that’s NOT a hint). It would be nice to have an area where I can set up sewing projects and not have to clean it up to eat dinner on the same table! However, I need another table and some storage bins of some sort. So that’s a work in process.

-Grass (or rather weeds) are finally growing which is helping take over the MonroePost mud lake. The front yard is almost covered and the backyard is getting there. We have some low lying areas on the sides of the house which get flooded in rain, so they are pretty much mud all the time. I think we will need a few loads of dirt to truly remedy that problem. The septic area is not really growing anything, and I think that’s mainly due to the high sand content. They brought in loads of sand instead of dirt. Sooo, we might just have to keep working on that area.

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-I got my clothesline built (or rather Alex built my clothesline). So far I love it! Its so nice to save energy and have sun dried clothes! I think hanging clothes does a better job than even ironing Alex’s work shirts! So windy out here, wrinkles don’t stand a chance! Yesterday I washed and hung sheets for the first time. Quintessential country living there. Haha!

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-We have also been talking with the farmer who cares for the land around us (and who once cared for these 5 acres). We have decided to sublet the back part of our land (about 2.75 acres of it) to this farmer and allow him to care for it for a while. This was a tough decision as we really don’t like what he will be growing, but we have decided its the best plan. We have a long journey ahead of us before we can really care for 5.5 acres by ourselves without a real tractor or a cow or something. We are letting him use the back and leaving a good 300 feet from the house before he will start planting. We felt comfortable with this distance. I have voiced my concerns about the pesticides ect to the farmer and he is extremely understanding and cautious. He is very supportive of my gardening methods and will do his best to support me. He even said if they wind direction was wrong (towards my house) he will never spray. I felt better knowing that he was supportive of me and cared about the safety of my family. All that being said, we knew that moving to the country, we would be experiencing commercial farming. There is really no way around it. I am glad to at least have met the farmer (he literally came to my house!) and feel that he is supportive of my values. He even invited me to come down and visit us at his house down the road. I like that. I will forgive the fact that he is planting death seeds in my yard. For now. Someday, I really hope that we can care for all 5 acres and plant our own crops, etc. Maybe goats can help us care for the land. Who knows! So much going on! For now, this will be a convenient way for us to not get overrun with weeds and also a little bit of extra needed income.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Projects, Priorities, and Pictures [Homestead Update]

I feel like my head is still spinning in circles. SO.MUCH.TO.DO.

Plenty of time…

It’s all just a matter of priority and fighting the “I want it NOW” ‘tude issue. Me with a ‘tude? Never! Anyways. After solving those attitude issues, I am feeling so much peace living in the country. I know I’ve already posted that like 800 times on here. But seriously, my favorite part of the day is watching the sunset. I literally walk around the house looking out every window watching the slow (actually rather fast) descent of the sun behind the tree line on the horizon. Today, we saw something totally cool. I was admiring my new clotheline Alex built me and I looked at the back of our house and saw a bright light through the doorway. The sun was literally dead center in our front door blazing right through the back door. It was pretty cool.

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Aside from awesome sunsets and sunrises, full moons, bird chirps, frogs, awaiting the cicadas to hatch-life is pretty slow right now. We are finding peace together as a family. I usually always wanted to go out and do something with somebody (still love all my somebody’s FYI) but now I am perfectly happy to be at home with my family and the life we have created. It’s a long road ahead and already a lot of work, but all the perks are really worth it (except for the day I got stupid sick and had to wait an hour for Alex to get home!)

Alright enough with the mushy stuff. Here’s the homestead update from this week.

-Erica Picked 30lbs of strawberries and froze some and made jam in my new canner. (Christmas present!)

-Alex Built a clothesline (yippee!!)

-Installed a cheap-o, yet usable compost pile out of some chicken wire and stakes.

-Got the garage wrapped, fascia put on and hopefully shingling it tomorrow!

-Researching caring for Runner Ducks for eggs instead of chickens. Dawww aren’t they adorable!?? Gah! I want them bad…but again with priorities. Sigh.

-Praying that my little garden plants will make it! So far I have planted zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and some sweet potato plants I got on super sale! Everything is looking ok, but not growing super quickly or anything. You know how some peoples garden grows like overnight? Seriously. I am really struggling not be to jealous of peoples gardens that are growing better than mine. Never thought I would be jealous of something like that. Oh well…I told myself that this was a “learning year” anyways and not to be disappointed if I got bad results. Still hoping that won’t be the case and I will get a least SOMETHING out of this garden. I feel like I planted my heart in these little plants and if they die…well, ya know. I get sad. N-E-WAYS.

Alright, I’m wiped. Can you tell?

Ya’ll are due for a recipe here soon. I’ll get on that I promise!

Clothesline! 3 rows 30 ft long
Clothesline! 3 rows 30 ft long
Ghetto compost pile. Hey don't judge!
Ghetto compost pile. Hey don’t judge!
Sweet potato mound
Sweet potato mound
Sweet sunset
Sweet sunset

 

 

First Project- Pantry Woahs

One would assume that moving into a new home the builders do things right…well¬†should do things right. Not the case in my pantry. I put some stuff on the shelves and they began to sag a bit. I asked Alex to add some more supports to help it not sag. We discussed the options we had for¬†rearranging the shelves and adding and extra one (since there were only three to begin with). After much debate, we decided to go with a entirely¬†different¬†shelf type . I could get a total of 5 shelves and instead of them being 12″ I got 16″. All in all it looks great it was just a hair pulling experience. While Alex was taking down the old shelves he noticed that they were not even attached to studs. Not only that but they were not even ANCHORED to the drywall. Alex literally just pulled on the screws and the shelves came down. Fan-tas-tic.

Anyways, to save you a boring blow by blow account of all the problems he ran into, the project took him all day.¬†All day.¬†I think he finally finished around 9:30pm and passed out on the couch. Lol. My husband is so good to me, knowing that my pantry is probably one of the most important areas for me. The end result is great! I love it and I feel like I am “shopping” in my pantry. So pretty and organized (for the most part!)

Check it out!

The first few days…

Well we moved in on Saturday! We were immensely blessed with so much help. The furniture was all put together by Saturday night so we were able to sleep in peace. We awoke to a beautiful sunrise and spent Sunday unpacking and working outside a bit. Things are still a pretty big mess and we have a lot of work ahead of us! We might not be as attentive to the blog for a few weeks, I am sure you will understand. ūüôā
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We're There! Well…Almost. [Weekly House Update]

Well, we did finally close yesterday, as expected. Although the process was terribly long and painstaking. We almost did not close due to an error and a document that was missing from the closing paperwork. Thankfully, the bank allowed us to continue with closing as long as that paper was completed by Friday, so hopefully all goes well with that (out of our hands!) We had to wait around for about 3 hours to close…sitting in an attorneys office. Thankfully, Lea was with Oma but the baby was with us. She was a trooper but she was getting bored. The attorneys office is not exactly baby friendly. There was a lovely little coffee shop across the street where we hung out for a while and chatted with the baristas. That was fun. The rest was messy, but we did finally finish about 6pm (closing was at 2 mind you). We got the keys and headed HOME! We wrapped up a few things at the house and Erica’s parents brought dinner down and a load of boxes. That was such a blessing.

Today we got up and drove back down to meet the water filtration rep. We got there and he was running all the tests on the water. To make a long, boring story short- We have really bad water. Very high iron, low pH, and lots of good ol’ sulfur. So we need a pretty extensive filtration system to get us good water. Unfortunately the cost of the system was about double what we had saved and set aside. That was a huge bummer. We could rent it monthly, however the bill is pretty high for renting. I think our plan at this point is to try to scrape the money together to pay for the system. This totally stinks because it means using the money set aside for Alex’s workshop, but we really don’t have a choice. We have to have the filtration to live in the house. Anyways. So that’s the scoop on that. We are having it installed tomorrow and we have a few weeks to decide if we want to buy or rent. Either way, we will have filtered water tomorrow! Hooray for that!

Our final adventure of the day was getting some gravel delivered! We found a place that could deliver 21 Tons of gravel. That sounded like a lot, but when they dumped it- it looked like a kinda small pile. Lol. Guess its just in comparison to the land. Either way we got it! I think we posted this the other day that we have a friend who is going to help us grade it. That is a huge blessing in light of all these other costs. Sigh.

We had to keep reminding ourselves that we are going to make it through this. This water filtration should be the last big hurdle of all the extra costs. We are done with closing costs, gravel, pump house, appraisals, etc etc etc (as it seems!). Oye.

It’s alllll going to work out. Eventually. But we might be eating rice for the next 3 years paying off all this stuff! Hahah. More updates to come!

Closing and Moving [Weekly House Update]


We’ve almost reached the end of the journey that has been buying the land and having a house built! We got word on Friday that our closing date has been scheduled for this coming Tuesday. We opted not to go down to the property this weekend and instead started our final packing. It felt like we were never going to make it to this point, but we are finally here!! We are planning on doing the final walk-through on Tuesday morning before closing. The water is getting connected on Monday so we are going to try to get the filtration system in place ASAP!!

Also, we are having some gravel for the driveway delivered this week! A wonderful and gracious friend offered to help us level all the gravel with his machinery. What a huge blessing!! We are in the process of building a mailbox stand and plan to have a mailbox “planting” event! Pretty soon yah’ll can come on down and check it all out!

Moving day is this Saturday!! All are invited, welcome, and appreciated!!

Phew! We made it!! Now for the work to begin!!

 

Pump House Begins and a New Dilemma [Weekly House Update]

We went down to the property yesterday, although we didn’t expect much to have changed since Alex just went down¬†on Thursday. The house was locked up so we couldn’t go inside, but it looks complete. The outside looks great and the pump house construction has started. The big news of the day, however, had nothing to do with the pump house.

We found out that the bit of gravel that we have at the very front of the driveway is all that we get.

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The poor weather lead to¬†bringing in a LOT of sand to keep the construction going. The result being, the driveway is way over budget (luckily the builder is absorbing this), but it also means there isn’t money for two full loads of gravel as we had originally hoped.

We are not really sure what to do at this point. There is somewhat of a driveway now that consists of sand/clay that was brought in during construction. We are concerned that our two-wheel drive vehicles stand a good chance of getting stuck at least until the sand and clay gets more compacted. Three truck loads of gravel would do it, but that is three truck loads of gravel that eat into the budget for the workshop.

We got some figuring to do… But enough blabbing, below are several pictures of the pump house beginnings.