We had hoped to begin building in the spring of this year. First, our drawings were done later than expected. Then there was the arduous task of getting contractors to quote on the build. I guess in the end, it all worked out. With the rainy spring and summer we’ve had, I’m not sure how much progress would have been made.
But construction has begun, and we’ve enjoyed a pretty good stretch of weather (except for one day). Heavy equipment moved in and began to clear the house site.
Next was a shovel to excavate the hole.
There were a lot of large rocks.
But before long, it looked like this:
And four days later, we had this:
Happy to be making progress.
Since purchasing the property, we have had lots of time to think about what type of house we would build. We started out thinking about a house in the Ontario Farmhouse style, then possibly a log house, then relocating an old log house that was built in the Ontario Farmhouse style.
But traditional house plans did not offer the layout I was looking for. This house was going to have a small footprint, too many rooms would make it feel small and choppy, so it had to have an open concept. We have, what I think, is a lovely view to the south, a rolling field that heads down to the cedar bush, and I wanted to bring as much of that view into the house as possible. We wanted the house to be cost efficient to build, as well as heat and cool.
So what did we choose? We have chosen to build a passive house. A simple rectangular house with extra thick walls and a large expanse of windows on the south side. A wood stove in the middle of the house will heat it nicely on really cold days. Our house was designed by Mike Cooke of Resilient Works. I supplied Mike with some pictures and drawings and a list of what I was looking for and he went from there.
Before purchasing our property, we had only been to McDonalds Corners once before, 25 years ago, when looking to buy a wood stove for our first house. Wood ‘N Energy was there and they sold Vermont Casting stoves. The store was located in an old wood framed building that is still standing, looking at it now, I’m not sure how it never burned down.
The village has general store with post office, a church, an agricultural society that hosts a fall fair; bird auctions twice a year; and this year The Festival of Small Halls. It is also home to the Lanark Highlands Basketry Museum run by Ankaret Dean. Close by is the Purdon Conservation Area, known for its display of lady slipper orchids. Just 15 minutes away is Back Forty Artisan Cheese and their handcrafted cheeses (I like their Bonnechere). But my main interest was in an organization called the McDonalds Corners/Elphin Recreation and Arts (MERA for short). I was just a knitter when I first heard of MERA and knew they had an active knitting group. By the time we bought our property and I joined MERA, I had begun weaving and discovered what an active weaving group they had. I have learned a lot from this group of weavers, but more importantly, I have made some lovely dear friends.
MERA offers more than just knitting and weaving. A weekly Farmer’s Market runs from May through October, workshops taught by some of the many talented people in the area, a pottery group, quilting group, visual arts group and a book group, plus music concerts and more.
Now, if someone were to open a pub, the village would be complete.
A couple of years ago my husband and I began thinking about a move back to the country. We live in a quiet rural subdivision with a large 2+ acre lot close to schools, a hospital and shopping – perfect for raising two little boys who were then just 3 and 5 years of age.
But as our sons entered high school, and with the reality that they would eventually leave home, we thought a change might be good for us as well. A small acreage with room for sheep, chickens and a studio/shop for yarns and my handwoven items seemed liked a good idea, and the search was on for the perfect property.
There was a small list of criteria that had to be met, namely commuting distance to work, and though wanting to be rural, we didn’t want to be in an area where we felt isolated. Searching real estate listings on-line, we found one that sounded promising, located outside of McDonalds Corners in the beautiful Lanark Highlands. With address in hand and permission to walk the property, we headed out. The instant I saw it, I was in love, it was perfect. We walked silently through the fields and down to the cedar bush where a creek runs through, its burbling almost lulling us to sleep as we sat and listened. After a while my husband asked “well?”, wondering what I thought of the property, I answered back with the same question, hoping he liked as much as I did, and he did.
After some negotiating back and forth, we had our dream property.
I thought that the modified star motif in the dishtowels I recently wove resembled more of a snowflake than a star, so with that in mind, and with the popularity of Christmas in July (although not with me), decided to weave a set of classic red and white towels.
I had the best intentions of having these towels done in July, and they were woven in July, however the hemming only just got done, oh well. I ended up with three towels that are 19″ x 29″ and one generous bread basket size. I do love the contrast between the red and white.