Tiny House

I have succumbed to the TINY HOUSE MOVEMENT.  Tiny homes are here to stay and I want to be a part of the action!  My new tiny home is being built now and completion date is forecast for spring 2016.  EXCITING!!  I feel like the Target lady on the Christmas ads on TV!

I’ve been watching tiny homes for ten years on social media, in fact, I built one in 1999!  I disguised it as a playhouse for my daughter, but it was really a tiny house – as I put a full sized door on one side so that it could be used by adults when my daughter was no longer interested in it.  Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 4.23.22 PMTurns out, the door remains hidden under the siding, because she never lost interest and the playhouse was sold with the house.  Seems the new buyer was also enthralled with the tiny house too, because he wouldn’t close if the playhouse wasn’t part of the deal.  No problem though, the footprint of the house was 12′ x 14′ with a height of 12′ so it would have cost more to move it than it would cost to build a new one.

That is exactly what I have decided to do.  The new tiny home will be built on a trailer as so many tiny homes are.  The trailer is 8′ wide and 12′ long.  You can follow along with me here as I document the building of the new tiny home, which I intend to rent out to people that would like to try the tiny house movement and see if it would work as a temporary or permanent lifestyle!  We already have some bookings for the tiny home in spring 2016!  How exciting is that?


Pellet Stoves vs. Wood Stoves

The debate is on – pellet stove heat or wood stove heat.


I have been carrying cord wood down into my basement for the past almost 30 years that I have owned this old house.  Last fall (2014), while carrying my quota down to my stone walled basement, I realized that, while I love wood heat, I can’t stand the work that goes with it.  My son has pitched in the last couple of years to lighten the load, but it’s still dirty, it leaves a mess on the lawn, it leaves a mess in the basement after the winter is over.  It brings in spiders, mice and this past winter, get this…..I left the trap door (that is my wood chute) open overnight by accident and a raccoon decided to come into the house!  Fortunately, the coon was locked in only a portion of the house and didn’t have access to the whole house.  Made clean up a lot easier!  And because there wasn’t any food in that side of the house, the raccoon left and I locked up the chute!

Even without the raccoon incident, I’ve been getting fed-up with carrying wood in….and wood, in my neck of the woods sells for about $100./cord and that’s a face cord.  So it’s not that much cheaper than oil.  Why do I bother you may ask?  Why don’t I just fill the oil tanks and forget wood heat?  Well, I would use solar or wind if I could, I’m just that kind of person, but Canadian winters are cold, really cold.  Wood heat is a nice heat, for some reason, it’s just more comfortable than oil heat.  So, my alternative is a pellet stove, the supply is more renewable than oil.  Let’s not even talk about the most recent spill in California.Oil TankWhich brings me to the next part of this series, after consideration and debate (with myself), I decided to buy a pellet machine.  Makes perfect sense to me…..I love to bake, I love to make soap, so I figured that making pellets is an extension of that creativity.  I went online and researched which pellet machine to buy.  I talked on the phone with pellet machine manufacturers, I emailed back and forth with others that make their own pellets.  I guess that’s why I haven’t been on here updating my blog!  Anyway, I came to the conclusion about which machine to buy, and where I was going to buy it.  I went on Alibaba and contacted the company and had it shipped.  I drove to my port to pick it up, brought it back, un-crated and started it up.  It wasn’t as easy as baking, and it wasn’t as easy as making soap, but I finally have my pellet machine working.

Polka Dot Soap

Polka Dot Soap

I have a unique and very renewable ingredient that I use from the farm and am experimenting with other options as well.  If you are thinking about using or manufacturing pellets – contact me and I’ll help if I can.  If you are looking to buy pellets, let me know, because since I am already in business, I have purchased a system that is large enough for commercial application and intend to manufacture for sale.

Now, I am actually looking forward to NOT carrying in wood this winter, a pellet stove operates on one bag of pellets a day for an average house!  :)


Organic Gardening

Well, it’s been a while….what a crazy busy summer it’s been!


I have a new organic garden and because of the delicious foods that we have grown this summer, I’ve decided to share my farm space with people that would enjoy gardening or perhaps don’t have the space to garden. A friend of mine told me that she loves to garden but the soil at her house isn’t rich enough and she doesn’t want to spend the time and effort to enrich it, so she has become my very first customer!


So, it will look like this……


A garden plot 20’ x 30’ fenced, it has to be fenced or the deer will eat everything. Over the almost 30 years of being on this farm, I have learned that the deer don’t recognize a garden as human space, the deer have the nerve to think you planted those pumpkins just for them!


I will provide two rain barrels to make compost tea or just catch rain water.


I will have available for purchase top soil, compost soil, and straw.


Fall is the perfect time to prepare your garden for spring planting or, if ambitious, fall planting (garlic) for next year’s harvest.


I would invite other farm bloggers to encourage neighbours to come out and plant their own gardens. There is something very satisfying about growing your own food and having it come out of the garden and to your plate within minutes.

Cold Process Soap

I couldn’t wait to get home with my new treasures to make Cold Process Polka Dot Soap and a new soap that I am calling Raspberry Kisses.

Polka Dot Soap

It was a lot of fun to make!

Cold Process Soap

Cold Process Soap

I expected this soap to “settle” a little, but it was pretty close to seizing when I got it into the mold.  My peach soap tried to seize also – note to self – watch these two fragrances!

All in all, these soaps were fun to make – along with my Maple Syrup/Honey soap, and it will all be cured in time for the Market Season!





Four Types of Homemade Cold Process Soap

I dare to say that I am desperately waiting for the maple syrup season to begin.  I have a new maple syrup evaporator arriving for this season and I’m super excited to get going making maple syrup.  In the meantime, while waiting for the right conditions for maple syrup, I have been entertaining myself with making some soaps.  I started making cold process soap over 15 years ago.  I retired all my equipment about ten years ago, so I got it all out and started looking over my notes.

Well, I got started with a Clementine Buttermilk soap.  This is an old favourite recipe of mine – it never lets me down, although the scent is new for me.  This Clementine buttermilk will be ready in about six weeks.

Clementine Buttermilk Cold Process Soap Winter 2014

Clementine Buttermilk Cold Process Soap Winter 2014

Then I made a Vanilla/Amber and used my homemade vanilla ice cream as the liquid.

The next night, I made a buttermilk recipe again and scented it with Lily of the Valley.   This turned into a very pretty white soap.

Next came a whipping cream base scented with peach, I layered this one so that the bottom half was white, the next layer was gold/yellow and the top was a pink peach tone.  This picture is right out of the mold, first slice, before any trimming is done.  I like to smooth the edges of my soaps – when the soap dries, the edge can be sharp and unpleasant, when trimmed, it rolls in your hands.  Sometimes I cut these down into travel size bars, that way you can take your favourite soap with you when you travel and not feel bad about leaving a bit behind.  The travel size is also wonderful in a guest bathroom – you can change it out after your company leaves!  And use it seasonally, Christmas Soaps at Christmas etc. – this Springtime Peach is wonderful….when?  Springtime, of course!

Cold Process Springtime Peach Soap

Cold Process Springtime Peach Soap


Nanaimo bar soap was next and I scented this with Creme Brulee, Nanaimo bars have kind of custard smell, so I thought Creme Brulee worked well. I think Nanaimo bars, a favourite dessert, might be known as a Canadian treat.  I’ve never seen it in my travels outside of Canada.  Because of the layering and scenting, it was a fun soap to challenge!

This week, Dara Howell proved herself to be the best in the world when she won the Gold Medal at the Olympics in Slopestyle Skiing.  It was an amazing accomplishment and one would have a better chance of winning a lottery than to win a gold medal at the Olympics!  Our whole town is proud of Dara Howell and her accomplishment.  Personally, it made me want to do something very “Canadian”, so I made a Maple and Honey soap!  I used honey from my own farm and maple syrup that I processed last year here on the farm.  It’s layered soap – honey on the bottom and maple on the top.  This picture shows what a cold process soap looks like in the mold.  I’m pretty excited about this one and expect it to do very well at the Farmers’ Markets this summer!

Maple and Honey Cold Process Soap

Maple and Honey Cold Process Soap

So, I know I titled this four types of cold process soap, but included six.  If you would like the recipes I used, comment below, if you would like a custom soap made, comment below and I will work with you on that.  And if you would just like to share your story, comment below!

Refinishing An Old Oak Staircase

Owning an old farmhouse brings a lot or restoring, refurbishing, and refinishing. It seems that there is never a shortage of things that need attention.
This summer, I decided that it was time to refinish the staircase in my home.  Years ago, I refinished the floors in my home – the most recent owner, before me, worked for the highway department – he had some leftover paint and painted the floors with highway sign paint.  That was the first job I had to take care of.  Stripping and refinishing floors is a job I have done many times – with hard work and perseverance, my floors are beautiful.  BUT, I’ve never done the staircase, I believe that the only finish my stairs have ever seen is the Johnson and Johnson Paste Wax that was hand applied back in the 60’s and 70’s.  Unfortunately, I’ve never done anything for these stairs and the wax finished has worn away – I’m now down to bare wood.   I’ve been procrastinating for weeks on this job – anything I can do distract myself from getting this job done, I’ve been doing!  But I woke up on Saturday and decided, “TODAY’S THE DAY!!!”  So, I took some pictures of the job before I started – I donned the mask, and fired up the palm sander.

I need to wear the mask because the dust is fierce and bothers my lungs, I think it’s just smart to protect yourself that way.  These stairs are oak, so I started with a 80 grit sandpaper.  I think anything stiffer than that would have been overkill and damaging to the integrity of the wood.  It was really important to work into the corners and edges to remove all the old wax.  If I left traces of the wax, the new finish wouldn’t stick, so I worked hard to get into the corners without pressing too hard.  I thought about using a dremel to get in the corners, but it wasn’t that hard with the palm sander.

My mother was a french polisher, so I’ve had experience with refinishing and the first rule is that you always have to sand with the grain – NEVER go across the grain.  Sanding properly take patience, and it’s better to go over the surface multiple times rather than make one pass that’s too aggressive that might scratch into the grain of the wood.  It took most of the day, but I sanded patiently until I got the surface I was looking for.  Vacuum the surface and wipe with a damp cloth several times until you feel the dust is COMPLETELY gone – make sure you get right into the corners.  Get the first coat down before anyone or anything walks on the bare surface.  Let’s talk about the coating.

I chose to darken the staircase a little, I’m just tired of looking at the honey coloured oak.  I chose a dark gel stain and mixed it with a polyurethane satin finish.  I blended a quarter cup stain with one cup of polyurethane.  And I brushed it on with a natural bristle brush.  I wanted to apply the stain slowly and would rather apply two coats than one coat that was too dark.  After the second coat, I was happy with the darkness so I switched to clear coat polyurethane for the last two coats.  Between each layer of polyurethane, I waited a full 24 hours before applying the next coat.  After the drying time of 24 hours, I sanded lightly with a 400 grit and then a another pass with steel wool and another wipe with a damp cloth.  Coat the polyurethane with a thin coat, if you try to layer too much polyurethane on, you will slow the drying time enormously – better to put two thin coats.  Also, I have chosen to finish my steps in a satin finish, my choices would be high gloss or satin, in this old house, I felt satin was the best choice, that being said, with satin you must stir while you are applying to keep the particles that give the satin look suspended in the polyurethane, otherwise you will end up with the high gloss finish.  Never shake polyurethane because you will put air bubbles in the gel that are just about impossible to sand out, only stir before and during use.

Now your floors are finished!