Monday, 23 April 2012

Aw The Smell of Salt Air!

I sit here tonight wondering how to start this post after such a long break.  I do apologize profusely for my tardiness and hope that you will be a faithful follower this year again as you were last season during our journey to where we are now.  I will say that life (and therefore my posts) will have much more life to them now that Madilyn has so amazingly entered our lives.  We see life through a new set of glasses. A pair that focuses on the small wonders of life here on the planet.  These small wonders make all the difference.  Everything I thought was big and important has taken a back seat.  Its amazing how such a small helpless being can impact our lives so much.  As hectic as life becomes with a baby, it almost slows down in an amazing uncomprehensible way.

Sometimes it takes me a long time to finally find the time to update my blog but when I do I always feel revitalized.  My life so often seems like a blur but putting it in words makes everything clearer.  Its like a bunch of puzzle pieces coming together to form a beautiful picture.  So, that being said I am going to try and write more often so that my life can better be put into perspective.

Hit The Road Jack!

After a wonderful visit with Andrew, Jenny and Zachary it was time to say goodbye and start putting some miles behind us.

We were very sad to say goodbye but Zachary was really good at consoling.

Madilyn was all ready to go in her new shoes that she found at a used children's store for just 2 dollars.  She really knows how to find the deals....just like her daddy.

Off we go!!

The Grand Arrival!

It wouldn't have been so grand if it wasn't Madilyn's "first steps" (metaphorically speaking) on "The Rock".  It was a mild but windy day when we got off the ferry.  We hadn't driven 10 km on the Trans Canada  when we hit a bump that broke a spring on the trailer.  This was maybe 1 minute after Ted commented on feeling relieved   that we were on The Rock after travelling so many miles with a maximum loaded trailer.  I tell you, we didn't have such great luck this trip with two trailer flats and a broken spring.  I think the stretch of road from Edmundston (border between New Brunswick and Quebec) and Riviere du Loup is somehow cursed.  This is where we had our first flat tire. It seems that we either have trailer trouble or really bad weather or foggy conditions that make it impossible to see.  Its the only stretch of road that isn't divided too.

During our first pit stop, Madilyn got to try out her new winter wear.  Seems weird to be buying winter wear in April..only in Newfoundland.
We were all in good spirits considering the circumstances.

  It was Good Friday and so nothing was open.  We made it to Grand Falls Windsor driving slow and doing our best to avoid every bump, crack, stone on the road.  The trailer was sinking lower and lower until the wheel well was resting on the tire when we hit a bump.  

The best part about Newfoundland is definitely the people.  We were able to get our trailer fixed.  If one place didn't have the part or didn't do the work they did there best to refer us to somewhere that did.  They go over and above their duty thats for sure.  The guys that fixed the trailer ended up staying 3 hours longer just so we could have our trailer for that day.  A great welcome back to the island.  

Home At Last

We arrived home to snow but not enough to shovel our way in.  The house warmed up fairly quickly and we got the plumbing hooked up within a week or so.  We just got hot water in the house a couple days ago.  I have never been so excited to have a shower (which would take a lot for me to say).  The mountain of clothes to be washed is slowly diminishing.  

It is amazing how fast we got into a routine here with both Madilyn and work.  We aren't open yet but plan to be in a couple weeks or so.  Getting our construction done is a slower process but we had anticipated this.  

The New Look

Here are some pics of how we left the place last fall.  These pictures are definitely long time coming.

Now that the house is up and out of the way we created a lot more parking for the cafe....and a wonderful view. 

We got enough work done on the downstairs to close it in for the winter.  We have framed the walls for banks of windows once we have time to put them in.  Also, the addition between the buildings is now in the process of being built.  This will tie the buildings together and be a little room for Madilyn right beside our cafe kitchen.  More pictures to come once we finish this.

The new entrance to our house.   The parking for our car is now on top of the cliff with a spectacular view.   

Lets not forget Crosbie.  He has finally returned to his stomping grounds.  He is still as fast as lightning when exploring the cliffs and trails.  He has been wandering around the town being the all star for the road hockey league at the bottom of the hill.  This fame unfortunately has some drawbacks though.  He has lost some of his freedom as a result and is chained up now unless we are on a walk or run with him.  I guess he couldn't resist this kind of fun (understandably).  We don't want him to be the town wanderer though.  

Gotta go and get some sleep.  Seem to be lacking in this department lately.  Its really taking its toll on me.  Good night and sleep tight.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

We're flying High Here in Newfoundland

Where did I last leave off.....hmm, well, there has been lots of action here and I think you will see why I have been procrastinating with giving you all an update. I'll get to that a little later.

A Wonderful Fall

I'd have to say that I was feeling home sick for the fall colours and smells of Ontario. It is my favourite season and I hate to miss it. Oh well, you can't have it all. You guys in Ontario did not have the priviledge of seeing the most incredible iceberg spectacle here (unless you are Leda and Ross who timed their trip to Newfoundland perfectly). The locals here are saying that we haven't had this kind of iceberg sighting so late in the year in about 100 years. WOW!!! The weather for the most part has been good other than a few big storms in the last couple of weeks. Looking at the sun on the ice early morning or when the sun sets is quite spectacular.

Its amazing how fast the icebergs can flip over or break apart. We'd be busy in the cafe and take a peak at the iceberg in our harbour and it would have completely changed shape. When you hear something like a gun shot thats the sign that a big chunk will be breaking off. I was on a walk with Crosbie and was watching an iceberg as I walked on the shore. I stepped behind a few trees when I heard the bang. I ran out into the opening and just missed the iceberg break in two. Oh well.

Throughout September we had a steady flow of photographers from everywhere on the island trying to get unique footage.
The tourist season was also extended with the arrival of the icebergs

Each morning we'd look out the window wondering if we would be blessed with another piece of ice in our harbour. Our front window was the perfect viewing point. In order to bring the icebergs in close to shore there had to be a north west wind. Just as fast as the icebergs appear they will also move on (unless they're grounded).

Someone had a Birthday!

Crosbie turned 1 year old on September 13th. We had a special dog meal for him. He is becoming quite an obedient boy. After much frustration and sometimes embarrassment, he is listening much better. If only he would stop rolling in dead things on a regular basis.

The House Move

So, we're back to more construction and renovations. After our first year of business we have a better idea of what improvements need to be made. The first major issue was parking, the second being seating space. This summer, a big topic of conversation was house relocation. We got thinking and thought that if we moved our house "out of the way" for parking and better view that we would be better off. We had considered selling the house and having someone take it away and build from scratch but this financially didn't make sense because the house structure was in good shape.

The end decision was to turn the house 90 degrees and set it partially up on the rock outcrop that is behind our house. We would then build a full storey underneath it to have more seating for our cafe at a later date. With the house further back we could extend our deck and the view would be breath-taking. We find that during the summer months, most people like sitting on the deck anyway.

Soooo, step one was to start destruction before we could start construction so we got a big excavator and buster in to level off a spot in the rock cliff. He also built us a driveway coming off the road just up from us that would be more convenient to where our house sits now. The excavation went smooth and quick.

We were happy that the excavation didn't take as long as they thought it would. We saved ourselves a lot of money and a few less days of really noisy work. I felt bad for people sitting in the cafe.

The house moving happened about a week after the excavation. This process was a bit more traumatic for us. Especially when our house was up 15 feet in the air on cribs and we were getting 100 km/h wind gusts. We were advised not to sleep in the house that night.

We had a bit of organization to do because there would be no power or water in the house for a few days and there would be stages where it would be hard to get in and out of the house. With the business still open it was a bit of a challenge but we managed.

The first job was to turn the house 90 degrees. They would jack up the house, slide a series of railway tracks underneath, grease them up and then push the house with a loader.

This is the house being jacked up in its current location.

This is the house in the process of being rotated.

Thank goodness they were careful about avoiding the cafe!!

The next step once the house was turned was to jack the house way up in the air. High enough so it would clear the spot on the cliff we cleared. This was the day that the winds were 100 km/h. There was definitely a bit of sway in the house. It was nice to know that the house had insurance on it while up in the air like this.

It really stuck out like a sore thumb out there. It was neat to watch the looks on people's faces as they drove by.

The next step was to slide it onto the cliff with an excavator. The one side of the house rests on the cliff while more than half the house is cantilevered over so we can build another story underneath.

Our electrician was able to hook up temporary power for us so that we could have some heat on and use the appliances. We just don't have any water up there. We're used to being out of our element though so its not that big of an adjustment. We still have water in the cafe, which is sufficient at this stage. The house is actually more protected from the wind now that its in the cliff.

The house moving crew was supposed to be finished pouring the concrete on Friday but have moved that to Monday. Ted and I were going to start framing up the walls on Monday but will have to wait for Tuesday. We are closing the cafe after this weekend to focus on getting the underside of the house framed and sheeted. Once we have the walls built the cribs can come out.

We have decided to take Monday off. We haven't had a day off since we started all this and are using this opportunity to have a day trip. We are going to Fogo Island for the day. We are very excited about having a day to spend away with each other and Crosbie. It has been a great season but haven't had much time to ourselves. This eventually wears and we feel we could use a relaxing day before we get into the building again.

I had to make a trip to Gander to get new work clothes since I have grown out of all my other ones. I have a great pair of overalls and nice suspenders for my work belt. I don't want to put any extra strain on the little being growing inside.

Ted and I both believe that a change is as good as a rest and so being outside more and swinging a hammer will be a welcoming change. We are just glad that most of the contracted work is done and we are on our own with the rest. The excavator only needs about a day to create the parking at the front and dig in our water and plumbing lines.

So, thats our lives right now in a nutshell. "Nugget" is still kicking up a storm and is growing like crazy. I am finally having people ask whether I'm expecting instead of wondering but being scared to ask.

Through the cafe, we have met some incredible people. Its nice to be able to have this friend base even though we don't really get out at all. We have decided to make Crow Head our full time home at this point in our lives. We feel that we can make a living here and feel that the communities surrounding need another place to go to. Our plan is to be open daily from the 24th of May through till Thanksgiving and then be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the winter months. If we want to close up shop for a month in the winter to visit friends and family in Ontario it would be easy to do. The community has been really welcoming to us and we don't feel that we stand out as much as we did when we first arrived. Although, our house sure stands out now.

Our goal is to be finished what we need to get done with the construction by the end of October, early November. We will then make a slow trip back to Ontario, making stops on the way. We should be arriving around the middle of November. Looking forward to seeing family and friends again. We miss all those hugs.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

New Crow Claiming Territory in Crow Head

Its been a while since I've had the time to sit down and update my blog. We've now been open for 8 weeks or so and really enjoying our new lifestyle. Sure, there are days that are tough and sometimes it seems that all we do is work but it has been really worth it. We continue to have great response from both tourists, locals and travelers from other parts of Newfoundland.

About a week after I last updated my blog, we put our sign up..we were very excited about its arrival. It is rather unique and a sign that is not often seen in this area. It is kinda like an Irish Pub sign that sways in the wind.

We were wondering if crow's would be scared of the sign or whether it would attract them. So far, we haven't had any encounters.

The sticky buns, muffins and cookies are still regular favourites but we've incorporated other items as well. Someone suggested date squares (or rectangles in our case) and they have been going like hotcakes. Its rewarding to have people returning multiple times so they can get their sticky bun or date square fix. We have also starting doing soups, which has been successful too.

The weather the last month has been fabulous. Not too hot or cold (mid twenties) and mainly sunny. We have finally been handed a taste of summer!!! To top it off, there are now icebergs passing on a regular basis. Usually they are at their peak in June but this year is a completely different story. There was a big iceberg up near St. Anothony (I'm sure some of you heard about it) that is now breaking off and making its way down iceberg alley. From Long Point (the lighthouse) you can see a couple dozen. There are supposedly lots more to come. They are a bit shy as they aren't coming in too close but maybe with a change in wind we will have some neighbours for a while.

This isn't the greatest picture but it shows our very handsome boy, Crosbie so its worth showing. We are trying to get a better routine going so we both aren't working from 7:30-10 every day. We alternate opening up in the mornings and take turns getting Crosbie out for a run once (sometimes twice) a day. The days do sail by quite quickly though with all the baking and serving coffee etc. We are still meeting wonderful people daily and getting to know the locals better. Now, some of the kids come in asking for their usual (chocolate chip cookie).

The blueberries have started coming out although they aren't quite at their peak. We have already picked some though and plan on freezing blueberries and partridgeberries to use in our baking next year.

New Addition to Our Cafe for Next Season

We will be adding staff to our cafe next year. We figure it would be way more exciting to add a third member to our team. Someone that can make us appreciate the little things in life more and bring joy to our lives. We will be starting the training process around January 3rd.

This is our VERY VERY BIG exciting news that we have to share with you all. We got our ultrasound on Monday (my birthday). I'd have to say that this was the best birthday gift I've ever received. We closed up shop for the morning so we could both experience the first sneak peaks at this little wonder. We're not sure whether its a boy or girl. We'd prefer to be surprised. It has been kicking up a storm and letting us know who's boss.

We are both really excited about this new life and know it can only add lots of joy and special moments to our lives.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Grand Opening!!!

We officially opened our doors on Thursday!!! It was a very hectic and full day on Wednesday finishing off the inside and a busy night making cinnamon buns, muffins and cookies but we did it. We don't have our official sign up yet but we do have a sign at the road with our name and what we serve. We were able to get a "sandwich board" sign made up. Our sign should be ready in a couple days. We are really looking forward to it because the guy that is working on it is very talented and Ted got a sneak peak and he says it looks fantastic.

We have had great reviews from people that have come in regarding our shop, coffee, baked goods etc. We have had many repeat customers. Word of mouth has also been great for us. People tell all the people at the B&B's and then they come check us out. We have also had great response from the locals as well. In the last 5 days or so we've sold almost 100 smoothies. These are a hot item....

Here is a picture of our wonderful espresso machine

We are really happy that we spent the money on this machine. Our specialty drinks are more popular than drip coffee. Originally we were contimplating a good residential machine but decided that we would go with the trouble-free way. We do not regret this decision one bit!! Our coffee is roasted in St. John's using environmentally friendly equipment and is Fairtrade Organic (the only way to go in our minds). We have had a lot of people happy that we sell it too.

The coffee is excellent tasting too. Many have commented on it being the best they have had on the island. We are happy to hear this because we tried to cater to all tastes when picking our blend and the proper grind.

After you see the picture of Ted's cinnamon rolls some of you might just jump on a plane to try one. They are simply to die for!!

These have been a hot item! They are really good just warmed a bit. Always a fresh batch if you feel the urge to stop in for a visit.

The muffins and cookies are a hit. We have one muffin that I make that we call the hiker's muffin. It has carrot, pineapple bits, oatmeal, coconut and a little cream cheese inside.

Our cookies are a big hit especially with the local kids. We must make sure that we have chocolate chip cookies on hand at all times or we might have some disappointed faces.

Our Shop

We were able to carefully place our merchandise so we could have two tables inside. We are very happy we made room for the tables because they are used on a regular basis. The table on the deck by far is the most popular. The sun streams in where the one table is till about mid afternoon so it makes it a nice spot to sit.

You can already start to see spaces on the walls where some of our artwork has sold. We have already had to contact three of our artists begging for more. We should have our walls back to life by Thursday.

We tried to find unique Newfoundland art and craft. We mainly deal with smaller suppliers in order to find one of a kind items.

Like I said earlier, it is a small space but we feel that we have made it work for us. People like the quaint feel and it means we can keep an eye on things easier.
We have started to figure out the routines... when there are busy times and slow times. We have found we have had a great response at night. People take a drive out to the lighthouse and want somewhere to stop on the way back. We have stayed open till 10:30 some nights. It makes for long days but its worth it.

The Fish, Fun and Folk Festival

This festival is on this week. It brings a lot of people to Twillingate. They are doing something quite exciting this year. They have floated a small house around from Durrell (travelling right by our harbour in Crow Head) and will do a house pull tomorrow. This hasn't happened in years and probably won't happen again for a while. We got some pictures of the house being pulled. This is our best shot.

More updates to follow when we get our sign up. Hopefully by then we will have started serving soups too....yumm....

Oh, I almost forgot about the bread recipe. I am having trouble adding the link so I will try on my next update. My eyes are getting really sleepy anyway and I must go help Ted with the closing up part. He let me have a few minutes to update on our exciting news. Thanks for all your support and interest in this dream of ours. Love to you all.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Cheers to Iris

Tribute to our Girl

With sadness we tell you that Iris was put to rest on Monday. She was in her 17th year after living a wonderful, adventurous life. We believe she had a stroke after slowly going down hill in the last month. Even though we feared she might be enjoying her last days, finality is never easy. We were with her when she passed on very peacefully. She was out walking with us just two days before she died, still with a slight bounce in her step and a nose that never aged.

Even though Iris only shared a couple years with us, we became very attached to her. She came to work with us on a regular basis when we were surveying in Ontario and even went for bike rides and runs with us until WE decided that it was too much for her. She wouldn't give up no matter the circumstances.

For a mature dog she adapted very well to Crosbie becoming part of the family. After the transition period, she would even let him share her bed and often lie in the sun with him.

We buried Iris on the hill across the road. On her little walkabouts through the day and night she would cross the road carefully and trip around the hillside. One last memory we have is her tripping up the road with her ears blowing in the wind. As the cars drove by they would smile and point at Iris who would often sit at the end of the driveway and watch the cars go by. She took well to being a Newfoundland dog. She will be greatly missed by us. We are left with wonderful memories though that will live on.

Finally an Update!

I must apologize for not updating my blog. I must say though, there aren't enough hours in the day. Ok, where do I start?? I think the last blog was when we were plastering away. Well, our plastering days are long gone (hopefully for a while).

After finishing all the plastering we were able to start the fun stuff...the stuff where you see results anyway. We painted the main area of the store a very light green and the kitchen an orange. We were very happy with the way it all turned out.

The interior of the building is basically finished, it is all trimmed and plumbed and most of the kitchen is finished. There are little things to finish inside the kitchen but they can be done anytime (at this stage maybe in the fall). Here are a few pics of our new "pad"

We went down to the wharf in Crow Head and the beach in Wild Cove and found ourselves some nice driftwood. We thought we would give our deck a "dock" feel. It was also neat to be able to use some of the props that we had at the marina for our store. Our neighbour Nelson really liked the anchor and told us to chain it down or it might disappear.

We were also lucky to find an old lobster trap under the wharf. We had been looking for one for a while. They are hard to come by unless you know someone.

Here is a view from walking in the door. We are going to be starting to bring in our inventory tomorrow. This is a very important part. The way we display our artwork has to be effective and eye catching. We were able to get great lights at Ikea while we were in Ontario. They will accent the walls where some of our artwork will hang. The space is small so it should be interesting.

Here is a view from when you come to order a coffee or cookie from us. Again, its a cozy space but we feel that we have used the space efficiently. We got our display case on kiiji used. We were lucky to find it because you couldn't make it for what we bought it for.

Here is the view of the kitchen coming in the "employees" door. The counter top we made we were using in our house and the stove as well (which we brought from Ontario). We are feeling quite disoriented now while making our meals because we have a little stove with an oven that burns most things and no counter space. We are managing though.

You will notice the floor is not a bland concrete colour anymore. This was quite an ordeal for us. We had to scrub the floors about 5 times to get all the plaster off (we would have had to do this anyway). The stain we put on the floor was supposed to dry in 1-2 hours. Well, the dampness in the air and the concrete didn't help our situation. We had to wait about 12 hours inbetween coats and a few days after the sealer coat.

We worked on finishing the bathroom and finishing off outside jobs since we couldn't walk on the floor for a while.

This washroom is now completely finished with all the fixtures. I haven't taken a picture of the finished product yet though so this shot will have to do.

We had to meet specific accessibility requirements to accommodate the handicap.

Fresh Bread....Finally!!

We were on our way home from our trip to St. John's and we stopped in to see some of the artwork of a potential supplier. We arrived at around 8pm and by the time we looked at her work and purchased some of it it was getting late. We connected well with this couple by the time we left. We headed out for home with approx. 6 hours of driving ahead of us to get home. Not 5 minutes down the road we hit a nasty pothole that did quite a bit of damage. We were carrying a big load (including a trailer load). The pothole bend our back rim and caused a flat. The front rim was also damaged but the tire was still sealed. The rims are aluminum and so cannot be bent out like steel rims (which is what we did the last pothole we hit on the way to Newfoundland). At this moment we got a call from Keli-ann letting us know that we could stay over if we wanted. Perfect timing for us since we couldn't make the trip on a spare tire. We stayed the night and went back into St. John's the next morning to get a steel rim to replace the aluminum one.

While we were visiting our new friends, I was excited to hear about their experience making artisan bread in just 5 minutes a day. I decided that this is what I wanted to do. My frustration with the bread selection here motivated me to give it a try. I bought all kinds of different flours at the bulk barn and now I am making fresh bread. It takes me about 5 minutes to make the dough and the dough is good for four loaves of bread. You just rip off a chunk and bake it and put the rest in the fridge until the next day when I rip off another piece and bake another fresh loaf. Its is so easy and fast. If anyone feels inspired let me know and I can give you the recipe. I change the recipe with different flours and grains each time so the loaves are always a bit different. Here is a picture to wet your appetite.

I will definitely be updating my blog again really soon. This is the fun stage when it all comes together. An empty room can suddenly come to life.. I will also have a better picture of our lovely faema espresso machine.

So, hope you enjoyed the tour. More details to come.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Electrical Storms and Plaster Disasters

We are still plugging away and slowly but surely making progress. Other than a dislocated shoulder we've been staying fit and keeping our backs to the cold winds and pelting rain. I apologize for not being diligent with my blog. I have been having trouble keeping my eyes open at night to update it.

Where did I last leave off. I think we had finished the deck and were starting the electrical. We're happy to say that the electrical is basically done. We will have the power switched on some time next week. Our electrician was excellent. Under his expertise we were able to do all the roughing in. Basically, all the labour except the panel hook up and splices.

It felt like we had wires coming out our ears. Barry, our electrician laughed saying that this is how much scrap he usually has in most jobs. Enough for us that's for sure. He was happy with our work..even though he always joked about there being so many short comings. He says everything he says is a joke unless he says he's serious. Sounds like some Lewis boys I know....I still fall for the sarcasm...I should be a pro at censoring this sort of behavior. I guess my reaction is always good for a laugh.

It wasn't long before all this spaghetti was hidden behind sheets of drywall and nice pink insulation. I don't know what it is but the insulation smells like cotton candy. It was all I had in me not to sneak a taste.

In only a couple days, the inside started to take shape. It was so much easier to visualize the space. The drywall was heavy and dusty. Not as dusty as the sanding of the mud will be tomorrow. Take note of the clothing difference from day to day. We had a few days of just above freezing, wet and windy and then the next day sunny and 12 degrees

The lead up to plastering was discouraging. Its hard to get anyone to help with it because its not a fun job. I had never done it before and I have to say, its not as bad as it was made out to be. We both had the same sentiment. Now to be fair, we haven't done the sanding or finish coat so we may have a different opinion in the next blog post.

It has been so damp that we bought a heater and borrowed a dehumidifier to try and make the plaster dry faster.

The fun part about plastering is being able to get dirty. Or making your fellow plasterer dirty.. Ted keeps laughing at how dirty my tools are, he is much cleaner an individual than me.

Today we have picked the colour of paint that we will use in the cafe. We also picked up lumber to make our cupboards. We will soon be at the rewarding stage where things will start to look "pretty" and we can put our own signature on the place inside.

Crosbie and Iris have been trying to dodge raindrops. They are so much more content when it is warm and they can snooze in the sun. They stick it out together though.