When we first laid our eyes on the farmhouse back in March, I had these ideas of making big gardens, a vegetable patch and a few planters…and just filling the whole place with all the lofty garden dreams from my Pinterest board.

Looking back, I’m sure it was just first homeowners excitement with a touch of naivety. The thought of having our own land, where I can get my hands dirty and make some things grow was just too much to rein back. The reality is that our property had been sorely neglected for a number of years, in part due to having tenants for so long. Much of our yard work has been cutting things back, pulling out invasive species and caring for what we want to keep.

At some point though, someone did live here who took a lot of time to care for the plants and work on the gardens. We’re seeing evidence of that every week when new blooms emerge. This week is was the big bush of daylilies blooming out front, which my great aunt says is a classic farmhouse flower.

These sunflower-like blooms emerged too. I love the red near the centre – it almost looks painted on with brush strokes.

Earlier in the spring we got to see the big dark pink peonies bloom along with a whole slew of purple irises. We’re working hard to keep those safe while we work on the porch restoration this weekend. We haven’t done much to this front garden, aside from pulling out all the big cedars and a bunch of weeds.

We have a big echinacea plant out front too and I can’t wait to see the purple blooms come out. Maybe I’ll even try to dry some for a homemade tea.


Our hostas are looking ready to bloom soon too.


For the last five days our house has been a construction zone. I took the time off work to start on the exterior makeover and I now realize that hard labour is no joke! Going back to the office this morning felt like a break, ha!

Wednesday and Thursday was all about gathering materials, finishing up some yard work and laying down our plan of attack. Our last stop was to the lumber yard, where we left with four carts loaded up with all the lumber and supplies we need for a bunch of projects in the works.

By Friday morning we were ready to start the prep work, which involved scraping layers of decades old paint off the windows, re-caulking everything and patching up lots of holes all over the stucco. It really did feel like it had to get a lot worse before it could get better.

Then the fun work started – painting everything and putting up new trim! It was so encouraging to start to see our dreams for this home take fruition. Thinking about what it will look like in the end has really kept me going!

The only break we took all weekend was to head out to our family friend’s summer party on the lake. It was a beautiful summer night and just what we needed after a long day of work.

 I couldn’t get over this sun. It looks like something from a sci-fi movie.

This gal and I share the same cousins and have been friends for our whole lives. It was great to be there to celebrate her 30th birthday too. This is one of the reasons I’m glad we moved back to the town I grew up in – I get to hang out and spend more time with some awesome people. She’s already got a girl’s dinner party in the works and I can’t wait.

Sunday morning it was back to the ladders and more painting until dark. I’m so thankful for all the help we got from our parents this weekend. We couldn’t have done it without them.

My mom and sister kept us fed all weekend too, with homemade cookies, muffins, lunches and even a greatly appreciated Sunday night pizza delivery. I swear I thought Garrett was going to fall asleep right there in his pepperoni, he was so tired.

We still have more scraping, patching and painting to do every night this week before I’m ready for the big reveal, but it’s looking better everyday!

It’s hard to believe that when our farmhouse was built, this great nation of ours was only 36 years old. This home has been through 112 years of change and we’re doing our part to put some love into it so that it can be around for at least another hundred.

Usually Canada Day means burgers, bonfires and cottage weekends for us, but this year we’re taking on a new adventure that feels just as exciting. The restoration of the outside stucco starts today and if the rain holds off for the rest of the week, we can start painting it. The porch will get some new posts, beams and stairs the following week. It’s all coming together and I can’t wait to see how this old beauty looks in the end. Thanks for following along on this journey!

Happy Canada Day!

With all the greens we’ve been getting in our CSA lately, I’ve been playing around with different salad recipes. This super simple summer salad has become one of my favourites and I love to change up the recipe depending on what greens we have on hand.

I’ve been using swiss chard or kale, but you can make this with spring greens or lettuce as well, and just skip massaging the greens and add the extra olive oil to the dressing. This is just a rough idea of what to put it and how much of everything, but you can easily adapt it to your tastes. If you’re looking to make this into an entree salad, add in some sliced grilled chicken.

Swiss Chard, Apple & Feta Salad

Makes 4 servings · Printable Version
What you’ll need:

  • 4 cups swiss chard or kale – washed, trimmed and chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/2 an apple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Other great additions – cucumber, green pepper, avocado

Rinse swiss chard (or kale), remove stems and chop into bite sized pieces. Add kale, 1 tbsp olive oil and kosher salt to large bowl, and massage greens for 2-3 minutes. This will help to reduce the bitterness, and the leaves with be slightly darker and wilted afterwards. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
Add in apple, red onion and feta. In a small bowl whisk together remaining olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Add to salad and toss. Salt and pepper to taste.

I can’t get enough of big salads like this. We’ve been having them with most of our meals these days and I love it. Bring on the fresh produce!

We’ve officially lived in our house for five weeks now and we’re still working on getting settled into each room. For the most part we have all the furniture where it should be but it still felt like it was missing something and then it dawned on me – we have nothing on the walls! At our old apartment we had paintings by family and friends, a gallery wall of photos and few souvenirs we picked up along the way, but I didn’t know how they’d fit into this new house. We’re got large rooms with spacious walls and it felt like we needed something that was more of a statement piece.

I found some amazing pieces at the Minted Art Marketplace that came in large scale prints that could fit our big walls, like this spot above the antique dresser from my great aunt’s farmhouse. I’m using this as a sideboard for our dining room right now and I wanted it to be a nice view for our dinner guests.

There were so many great pieces to choose from, but in the end I settled on this large scale landscape print, Savannah Lands by Emily Jeffords. I loved how it reminded me of the beautiful views we have here at the farmhouse.

I chose this reclaimed barn board frame and I’m in love with it. It’s handcrafted in the US from wood from old barns and it’s perfectly imperfect, with a great weathered look. The framing itself was very well done, with acid and lignin-free paper. I was really impressed with the quality.

We’ve received so many compliments from people already and it made me start thinking about other places we can add some artwork in our home.


The other piece I chose was this Home Sweet Home Print by Kristen Smith for our front hall.


It seemed like a fun way to greet our guests on their way into our home.

Again I went with the reclaimed barn board and I love the rustic touch. It fits in perfectly with our farmhouse theme.

Each print came with it’s own certificate of authenticity, marking it as a limited edition print and including a little word from the artist. When I read that the artist Emily Jeffords from Greenville, South Carolina it was such a coincidence, because we were actually there on our honeymoon road trip last spring visiting Garrett’s aunt and uncle. Kristen Smith is from Georgia, which was another stop on our trip. Small world!

If you’d like to get your own Minted Art, I’m happy to offer Small Home Big Start readers a 10% promo code that is good until Monday, July 6th, 2015!: SMALLHOME10


This post is sponsored by Minted Art Marketplace. I received the product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and language are my own.

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