December 22, 2012

Another Kind of House

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
It has been an extremely busy December for our family - travelling, house building, holiday preparations, career planning, and school activities.  I look forward to sharing our straw bale building updates in the new year.  Thanks to everyone for following along thus far!


December 11, 2012

Raising the Walls

Boy oh boy has it ever been cold, windy and snowy!  Mother nature hasn't hindered progress and there was significant change the past two weeks framing the house/garage walls and sheeting the garage.  Windows were delivered this morning and this week's task is general puttering.  We are hopeful that next week the roof will begin to take shape. 


November 17, 2012


Les is a real trooper!  He heads out the door, bundled in many layers and armed with a thermos of hot tea, each morning.  He comes home  ten hours later chilled with wind-flushed cheeks and damp clothes.  It is pretty awesome that our "forever" home will have so much sweat equity from an amazing husband and father! 
Everything is ready for garage framing.
The deck is looking really great. Bobcat landscaping is the weekend's project so that the final deck section can be completed next week.  We are loving the wrap around deck.
A little toboganning fun right outside the front door!  The boys are pretty excited that they can toboggan without even going anywhere.  Please excuse the poor picture quality.  I must go check the camera settings!

November 16, 2012

Colds and Cold

Good riddance to cold weather and our houseful of colds!  Things are looking up, weather-wise, with a milder forecast for several days. Earlier in the week was spent clearing snow and digging deck material out of drifts.  Les said it was a nice feeling to remove packaging from the bundle of reclaimed Fir posts delivered last month.  Deck building has begun and I am heading out there this afternoon to take some pictures.  Watch for another post tomorrow! 

November 2, 2012


The kitchen is definitely one of my favorite rooms offering serenity amidst chaos! There is almost always a batch of something on the go in mine.  This week has been Halloween goodies, sauerkraut and pureeing pumpkins.  The majority of my time is spent here so you can imagine how much thought I have put into my "dream" kitchen.  Will it have everything I have ever wished for?  Absolutely not!  Of course there is a budget and of course there are size restraints.  I have talked myself out of certain "wants" but along the way discovered some very innovative products and ideas.  Check out full surface induction cook top!  So very cool!
It is a modest sized kitchen that has been designed, changed and tweaked numerous times over the past four years.  Function and storage while staying true to the budget was always the focus. In an effort to reduce future counter top clutter I have even gone so far as taking inventory and deciding where everything will live in the new kitchen. 
My absolute favorite features include fantastic small appliance cabinets, a compartmentalized corner drawer (bye bye Pampered Chef spinning kitchen tool death trap!)  and a beverage centre separate from the kitchen.
The layout is essentially complete and my energy has shifted to sourcing the back splash, counter tops, sinks, etc.  Interior designer I am not but I do have a clear vision of what I want the end product to look like. 

A future post will have some pictures and also give credit to a very patient and knowledgeable kitchen designer. 


October 26, 2012

The Past Two Weeks

There really hasn't been much house development the past couple weeks.  Our contractor was busy at another job during garage and deck pile prepartion.  Last week rain delayed drilling but it got completed on the weekend.  On Monday the concrete truck finished just hours before (gasp!) snow. Three days of white fluffy stuff has stalled progress again.  Good thing there is lots of finishing to do in the workshop or these delays would start to become stressful.  The workshop walls and ceiling are almost sheeted and soon there will be heat.

It's hard be glum about early snow after spending a couple of days with two very excited little boys!  I can't even remember how many times I heard "I love this time of year!".


October 15, 2012

Family Fun Day

Since moving we have adopted Sundays as "family fun days".  We slipped up the past two weeks and did spend the day working.  Boo!   Yesterday in the mid-afternoon of a perfectly gorgeous day we rallied together and got organized to spend the rest of the day at the farm playing.  We canoed, climbed dirt mountains, watched animals and had a rip-roaring fire.  Now that is a fun day!


October 14, 2012

Let it Flow

It was a slow week for house progress so a lot of organization and puttering took place in the workshop.   
On Friday the plumber unexpectedly arrived to hook up water and do a test pump.  This is significant because now ALL trenches can be back filled.  We are still quite far from hooking up the "facilities" in the workshop but any little bit is helpful.
We are hoping for a very productive week of building!  Enjoy your Sunday!

October 12, 2012

Life in the Country

Before moving to rural Saskatchewan we spent twenty-ish years living an urban life.  Our longing to live a simpler, more self-sufficient life grew stronger when we had our first son. We are not truly "off grid" (still connected to the electrical grid...Mumma needs her Kitchen Aid!) and don't intent to be isolated "hippies".  Truth is that although we enjoy our privacy we very much enjoy the company of others. 

Country living will allow us to spend more time engaged in activities we adore such as cooking, gardening, baking, fishing, bird watching, hunting, woodworking and preserving.  It is going to be a lot of work but it is good work....the kind that fills your soul knowing that you are doing your very best to sustain a healthy family.

October 10, 2012

Deck Decisions

Building the deck is next on our lengthy "to do" list.  After researching almost every "maintenance free" option we made a quick city trip on a snowy Wednesday for the final decision.  It is a major decision because we have a LOT of square footage, nearly 800, to cover!  Admittedly we both prefer real wood but, in reality, know how much labour and product future maintenance will consume.
For railing we will use clear glass panels integrating existing Fir posts.  Most of the deck will be "Duradek" sheet vinyl while the north and west porch will be "Rhino Deck" composite made from recycled plastic and wood.  It was quite exciting to finally get physical samples to help make the remaining exterior color choices a little easier.

October 7, 2012


Building this type of home derives from our need to live in an energy efficient home that uses environmentally preferable materials.  The thought of no longer receiving a $400+ gas bill in January is very lovely. 
The foundation, frame and roof are similar to a typical build while the insulation, drywall and siding are not.  Our bales are sourced locally, less than a mile away.  Straw bales are natural, inert and have no off-gassing components. 
Interior materials are being extensively researched.  Our goal is to use components that are not typical and, most likely, not available from a big box store.  Items such as recycled cardboard light fixtures, vintage tin ceiling tiles, old church pews (for trim), recycled cardboard wall panels, and homemade solid wood doors will be integrated in order to minimize chemical and toxic impact.

If anyone knows about an interesting "green" building material please let us know!


October 5, 2012

Moving Bales

400 stacked and 400 to go! Last week Les moved two loads by himself with the small trailer.  Yesterday there were three of us and we managed to get two big loads in an hour and a half.  The men carried on and moved two more large loads.  Heavy work! Guess what they are doing today?

October 4, 2012


A quick update that floor joists and the subfloor were completed this week.  Cold weather came and, thankfully, the rain (and snow!) stayed away.

The septic tank was set up.  Lots of trenches have been filled.  New ones were dug to the septic field and from the well to the house. 

October 3, 2012


Living in the country means sharing your backyard with animals - ducks, deer, coyotes, moles, geese and moose to name a few.  Some are desirable and will simply add to the serenity of daily living.  Imagine listening to ducks skimming the water under a full moon.  Others can be bothersome like a mole tunneling through your vegetable garden.  Our first unpleasant creature encounter is with mice.  It is relatively easy for these little critters to make their way into our workshop.  They seem to be doing so more frequently since the wheat was harvested.  So our family will soon be growing.  A couple of farm cats are being given to us from a neighboring farmer.  Hopefully the circle of life will ease our rodent problems.  Suggestions are welcome!

October 2, 2012


I have quickly figured out that thoughtful and informative blogging takes time.  Lots of time.  I had visions of describing, in great detail, the building process and providing information about alternate building and energy concepts.  But, there are only so many hours in the day and they get filled quickly by small children, a love of cooking and everyday domestic goddess duties.  For sure we are not experts on this topic and there are already so many great resources available on the web and in books.  So, this blog is primarily about our progress and a bit about exposing how our values affect our choices.  I hope you are enjoying reading about this adventure.


September 26, 2012


Dirt, sand and gravel were moved this week.  A culvert was put in the driveway.  Weeping tile was laid.  Trenches have been dug for septic system. 
Our building inspector visited yesterday afternoon and gave the thumbs-up to back fill.
The little ones "Mantracker" game is now suspended until further notice!  It is a bit too nerve racking for this mumma to let them run loose. 

September 23, 2012

This and That

The past two weeks have been spent...

enjoying the last bit of summer.

applying a water proof membrane to the ICF.

gathering supplies.

hauling gravel.

doing a bit of backfilling.

receiving floor truss delivery.

September 12, 2012

Big Day!

The wind subsided to a mere 40km per hour and the sun was shining.  The pumper truck arrived at lunch time and there was a steady stream of mixer trucks for the next couple hours.   Picture heavy post as the boys and I have a cake to decorate!
The littlest having a snack!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  There's a cold beer waiting for you!