welcome to our farmhouse…life is good

Tuesday, September 5

superheroes!


The world is filled with images of superheroes right now...

Captain America, Ironman, Spiderman, but here's something to think about...






Moms, you are heroes...and what you do matters! I love this quote from Susan Branch...


"You need to know that you are the fairies that run ahead
and make everything magical,
because you know that even the smallest of things can be special.
And you need to know that what you do is nothing short of heroic."


Hats off to Pink Tractor for sharing this photo with the world...enough said!


Tuesday, August 29

"just a housewife..."


I stumbled upon this photo one day while wandering through Pinterest...
ah, yes...how addictive! How inspiring! 

I love looking at photos from days past...lovely shadows, vintage dishes, a thoughtful expression. What is she gazing at through the window?

But what stopped me cold, was the comment posted underneath the photo...


Photo Source

"I would have liked to be 'just' a housewife."


It made me sad...made me stop...made me be grateful. I remember reading once that someone else is dreaming of what you already have.

Oh yes, I've done the 9-5. In a past life, I was the Sr. Book Editor for a cookbook publishing company.


Several years ago, many of us arrived to find that the company, in an effort to restructure, had made cuts in the staff. I was one of those, along with a great group of creative folks, who found themselves looking for a fresh start. Alas, cookbook editor jobs are few and far between, even more so in our little part of the Midwest. And one where I could work from home...that was impossible to find. 

But, as we say, "Life is Good." I began chasing a writing dream with my "free" time, I substitute teach at a terrific elementary school, and I bake for our local farmers' market grocery.

I'm here for the kids whenever they need me (as well as the chickens and goats) and hubby is supportive of my farmgirl wannabe dreams (except for the milk cow...he won't budge on that!) 

Someday soon I'll share my feelings on what I've learned along the way...no, you can't have it all, at least not at the same time, anyway. And oh, yes, what to say to those ladies who ask,
"What DO you do all day? Are you ever going back to work?"


I often think of this quote by Jeffrey R. Holland


 "Nature has its rhythms and its harmonies.
We would do well to fit ourselves as best we can 
with those cycles
rather than frantically throwing ourselves against them.
Be calm, be patient, be happy with the season you are in."


Each day I try to remember that motherhood never ends, but childhood does...be happy with the season I am in. Wise words indeed.


Thursday, August 17

Monday, August 14

confetti salsa!


My friend Peggy shared this recipe with me Wednesday...since then, I've made it 4 times!
It's called green tomatillo salsa, but looks like a happy toss of confetti to me!






Now here's the thing, there's no "right" or "wrong" to this recipe...and there are no specific amounts for ingredients.

Don't let that worry you...it WILL taste great no matter what you do!  Peggy chops her ingredients in a hand chopper so they're small and the result is a salsa that's much more sauce-like...yummy.

I like my salsa more (isn't there a better word than "chunky?!) substantial. So mine is less salsa-like and probably qualifies as more of a side-dish...is that a problem? It's fine with me! Anyway, I simply chopped mine by hand quickly because I couldn't wait to enjoy it.

So here you are, the recipe straight from Peggy. Ingredients are in a quantity order...for example lots of tomatillos, not so much cilantro. From the photo you'll see I love red onion...out of proportion to the recipe below, but this is yours to enjoy, so make it anyway you like! I'm going to add some avocado next time.





Peggy’s Salsa

tomatillos, peeled and chopped (lots!)
red onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
jalapeƱo pepper, chopped (amount to taste)
cilantro, chopped (to taste)
salt (to taste)
lime juice (to taste)

Combine all in a bowl, grab a bag of tortilla chips, get ready to be happy!







Tuesday, July 25

farmgirl photo...




Honeybee in the Tomato Soup...coneflower, that is!

I love the striking color of this variety...so glad I found it!





Thursday, July 13

farmgirl phone photos...


I try to keep my camera handy, it seems there's always something that just needs to be saved for the memories...old barns with chippy paint, glorious flower gardens, centuries old farmhouses, and regional eye-catchers like the hundreds of wind turbines we came across on our last road trip...they seemed to fill the fields for miles. 

However; there are times I just run out the door and don't bring my camera along...those are the days I see the most beautiful sights, and I'm left with only my phone camera. Ugh...and so it goes.

Such was the case last week...this sunset was so beautiful that my daughter and I just had to pull the truck off to the side of the road and really enjoy it. The shape of the clouds, the intense colors, the dramatic shadows...no photo trickery here, this is what we actually saw. And yet, the camera couldn't capture all of the beauty we saw with our own eyes.

I'm sorry to say, all I had was my phone, but I snapped some pictures anyway and wanted to share them.

(At least I didn't run out the door without my phone...which happens more than I'd like to admit!)










Tuesday, July 11

apples + apples = applesauce!


This week is applesauce week here on the farm. Our Yellow Transparent apple tree is loaded with apples, and they're ready to pick.

NOW!






To be honest, it takes longer to pick, peel, and slice apples than to turn them into applesauce, and there are two really easy ways to make applesauce...no more keeping watch over them while stirring on top of the stove for hours.

One...pull out your handy slow cooker, it just couldn't be easier!

Slow Cooker Applesauce

10 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 c. water
1/2 to 1 c. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker; stir to blend. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, or high setting 3 to 4 hours.


OR...

Electric Pressure Cooker Applesauce

8 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients into the inner pot, close the vent, and press STEAM/CANNING button and set it at 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, slide the steam release valve and allow the steam to escape, remove the lid.

Now yes, I do have an "old-fashioned" slow cooker, BUT this was made in an Power Cooker brand electric pressure cooker my family gifted me with at Christmas. 

And if yours isn't a Power Cooker, no matter which brand of pressure cooker you own, you'll find oodles of applesauce recipes online.

No electric pressure cooker? The slow cooker works perfectly as well...it gives you not time to slip outside to do a bit of gardening, curl up with a favorite book, or wrangle a few goats for hoof trimming! (see what we have planned?)





What to do with all your yummy applesauce? Well, it freezes perfectly, so once it's cooled, simply spoon it into freezer containers.  

Or, preserve jars for yourself as well as to share with your family & friends. I'll be spooning extra applesauce into jars and canning them...ready in only 15 minutes!

Enjoy the day, friends!













Tuesday, July 4

a day to pause and reflect...



George Washington praying at Valley Forge



"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations
to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God,
to obey his will, to be grateful for His benefits,
and humbly to implore His protection and favor."

~George Washington
October 3, 1789




Friday, June 30

chimney for the cute little house!


As promised, here's a better look at the chimney for the sweet little house in my previous post...





and wait until you get a close-up look at the exterior detail...



wow...


beautiful!




gorgeous!





This is the OUTSIDE of the chimney...amazing!

Next post I'll share a few more details...the windows and door are lovely, too.
(Okay, did I say I would move there in an instant?!)


Happy Friday!



Wednesday, June 21

Farmgirl photo...




love.
Love.
LOVE!



I'll tell you more about this soon!

Smoke house?
Summer kitchen?

Doesn't matter...I'd move right in in a heartbeat!
And wait till you see a close-up of the exterior fireplace...amazing.



Sunday, June 18

happy Fathers' Day!





Here's to steaks on the grill, strawberry pie, and an afternoon nap!
Thanks for all you do!


Friday, June 9

all the buzz...



It's that time of year...bee time!

Checking hives.

Chasing swarms.

Trying to keep the smoker, well...smoking!


But today is the best part...extracting!  Ahhh, the wonderful fragrance of honey paired with sticky fingers (which absolutely require licking, mmmm!) and dreams of honey drizzled over slices of warm, homemade bread. Yum!

And so today's post is short and sweet...my, oh my, befriend the bees!

As you plan your gardens this spring, give a little corner to bee-friendly plants...

Planting for the birds and bees:
Source: https://www.pinterest.com/wordpressdotcom/



It's oh-so easy to sprinkle a few seeds in a garden corner, a container, or even plan a whole bee-friendly garden!  

You'll be rewarded with beautiful blooms to cut and share, and you'll find your veggie garden or fruit trees will benefit as well...yep, it's a win-win!

Let me know what you plant and share your stories!
Happy Friday, friends!


Sunday, May 14

happy Mothers' Day!





For all the selfless giving, tucking in, goodnight kisses,
and a million other things

Happy Mothers' Day!


Sunday, April 30

spring cleaning...still



Spring cleaning is here,
I'm sorry to say,
Was not in March,
And here it is May!
March was too cold,
And April too fine,
To sweep remote corners,
And polish and shine.
But in this fair month,
I have motivation
If I don't clean house now,
I'll miss summer vacation!

-author unknown


Oh yes, it's been an on-going adventure since February...because I know if I don't start then, I'll never finish! (153 year-old farmhouses have oodles of nooks and crannies that seem to need attention.)

For such as task as this, it's best to have a good friend to share the "joy" with. My girlfriend Kathy and I have found that a brisk morning walk provides the fuel needed to get our homes in order. After an hour of chatting, catching up, and solving the world's problems, we are ready to dive into the day's To-Do List.

And so, armed with an assortment of items guaranteed to make the house sparkle and shine, the days are spent moving from room to room tackling everything from dust bunnies to the endless papers that seems to collect quite nicely in a vertical filing system. 

Throughout the day Kathy and I text one another to keep our motivation strong:

"I've just finished painting the last wall in the bedroom!" she excitedly tells me.

"That's great! I'm tackling paperwork." I tell her. "I can see the bottom of the desk!"

Back and forth we go, encouraging one another to keep moving on and sharing in the success as a job is crossed off our lists.

Sometimes, on a fine spring day, I'll take a break...which if I'm not careful, can quickly become a pitfall of spring cleaning. I'll step outside and sit in a favorite vintage, springy chair and listen to the birds singing, bees buzzing, and laugh as I watch the chicken races the girls are having in the run.  

I'm still working on my fiddle playing, and these cool and breezy days are just perfect to be outside, sitting in one of those springy chairs. I'm just starting to learn something new, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, which is an old song written in 1826. Take a listen here as the group Fiddlesticks shares their version. I hope to be this good some day...

Okay break time is over...I know I should feel like this, 


(photo source: http://theglamoroushousewife.com)


but honestly, I'm looking more like this!


(photo source: http://budget-maids.com)

Happy day friends!




Tuesday, April 25

time to slow down...


April has proven to be a tease...days hinting at summer, with temperatures at 80 degrees, days with snowflakes, and then days like yesterday which were sunny indeed, but greeted us with a strong cold wind from our friends up North...sweaters and sweatshirts were a must for venturing outdoors.

However; the past weekend here in our part of the Midwest was beautiful...even with a lingering chill, the April sun shown brilliantly and spring fever had us firmly in its grip! A peek inside last week's found bird's nest revealed 2 more eggs, along with a mama who was keeping a close eye on me!




Our family spent Saturday outside...mowing, raking, trimming, weeding, and starting the job of catching up on outdoor chores that needed done after a long winter's nap (both us and the farm!)  The burst of fresh air encouraged us to get moving and dig in! 

At the end of the day, flowerbeds were weeded, mowing was complete, and leaves raked. I still felt the urge to do more, but the day was over, and we were all worn out. 

Sunday came as a lovely morning...the air was sweet and filled with the buzzing of bees and a sapphire blue sky.  As a family we want to keep Sunday special...we try to make it truly a day of rest, worship, and reflection. In passing I said to my daughter, "Oh, I wish I could get some more things done today..it's so pretty outside!"

Her reply, "Just enjoy the creations around us."

Wise words indeed from a 16-year old...encouraging Mom to simply enjoy all that's around her. 

Tuesday we took a drive through the country to a nearby town, and were dazzled by glimpses of pink dogwood trees, brilliant yellow daffodils, deep purple lilacs, and the beginning of rosy azalea blooms. 

Yes...let's all take time to enjoy all the creations around us. There will be plenty of time for working later.


Friday, April 21

celebrating the unexpected...


While chasing a honeybee swarm (that got away), I discovered this....




a simple country pleasure, indeed.




Wednesday, April 12

spring...finally here?


Friday it snowed.

Today the forecast is 64 degrees, and Saturday 78!


I think, maybe, just maybe, spring is finally here. Today our farmhouse windows are open, and while there's a lingering chill in the April breeze, as it gently blows, it brings along with it the scents of spring...freshly-cut grass and the rich smell of newly turned earth. As the clouds drift by, the prospect of a beautiful sunny day stretches ahead.




By the big oak trees, the birds are chattering and in the coop beyond them the rooster can be heard crowing. In the distance, I heard the faint, steady sound of a tiller...one of our neighbors must be preparing a garden. And yet, in the middle of all of this happy farm tranquility, the jarring sound of a wet saw cutting tile breaks through. 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm tickled that the tile is being installed, it's just the contrast that makes me laugh this morning.  

April's lovely weather, paired with spring break, offers us lots of free time this week...a picnic is planned, along with kids' sleepovers, a trip to Grammy's, and the fun of Easter. Monday we were at the zoo, and we've completed a 5-mile hike our son needs for a Boy Scout Merit badge (might I mention I'll be tagging along on the required 10, 15 and 20 mile hikes as well...surely, this will burn some excess calories!)

And yes, while I'm an obsessive list-maker, I've also learned that it's often the things not on my list that end up making the best memories. Don't you agree, sometimes the unexpected just ends up being the most fun?

So I'm setting my list aside (just for now!) and throwing caution to the wind...join us!

What should we do today? What adventures are waiting?!





Friday, March 31

spring break is on its way...


For the last couple of weeks I've been spring cleaning...you know, Domestic Goddess chores as I like to call them. But spring break is just around the corner, and on the kids' wish list is a day at the zoo, a trip to Grandma's house, and a visit to the Humane Society in a neighboring town.  

Our son volunteered at the Humane Society as a Boy Scout merit badge activity and I tagged along...we had a great time!  Yes, there was work that needed to be done...cleaning litter boxes, washing feed bowls, and filling treat buckets, but the staff also encourages volunteers to socialize with the cats & dogs...yay! That meant lots of walks, tossing balls, and simply relaxing and spending time with the animals. 

And so, since April 11 is National Pet Day, why not celebrate by visiting your local shelter...I'm sure they'd love to have you lend a hand! (and take a critter...or 5 home!)

Come on...look at those eyes!












Tuesday, March 14

snow day. Snow Day. SNOW DAY!


Just 5 days ago, we had a day so warm the beehives were buzzing! The girls were out in full force...bringing in pollen from the budding maple trees and sipping water in the bird baths.
I was thrilled to see they survived the winter.


But oh, how Mother Nature can change her mind...today it's a winter wonderland! School started off with a 2-hour delay, then, it was cancelled completely...yay! My best mom friends and I are texting back and forth...we can't believe it!



cute kitty gazing at the warm fire...




And the timing couldn't be more perfect...the Orchestra & Band kids just got back from their trip to Disney last night, and they all could use a day of sleep (chaperones, too!)

So today around the old farmhouse you'll find a cracking fire blazing, the aroma of cinnamon rolls and cherry turnovers, homemade cocoa, movie marathons (Dr. Strange, anyone?), and snow ice cream to go along with our Toll House Pie...after all, it is Pi Day!

(And if you're looking for some Pi(e) inspiration, visit the Royers Pie Haven...
you can find their Texas Trash recipe here. Don't let the name fool you...chocolate, pretzels, coconut, pecans, yum!)

Time to bundle up and brave the outdoors...even the critters get a treat on blustery days like this. Warm mash for the chickens and apples for the goats...oh happy day!






Thursday, March 9

survival...


We  laughed, we cried, we ate chocolate...Orange Milanos, Hershey bars, Andes Mints, and chocolate chip cookies were in abundance between all the moms as the charter buses pulled out of the school parking lot.

The kids didn't see us shed a tear...we waved and smiled as we quietly dug our nails into our palms. Yep...we had this down perfectly.

So today, in about an hour, the buses will be pulling up to the beach...it should be 77 degrees in Orlando and the plan is to swim, visit the surf shops, and enjoy a beach barbecue...what fun they'll have!

So what will we moms do to keep busy?  Well my friend Kathy and I have already started, but we plan to hit our spring cleaning with a frenzy!  I'm following my tried & true schedule, but found this terrific one too and thought I'd share...you can find it by clicking here...




And so I'm off!  Tomorrow is a teacher work day so the boy-child (or does age 13 make him a man-child now?) will find something fun to do.

My, oh my...time DOES fly.






Tuesday, March 7

time flies...


I don't know how we went from this...




and this...


to this...


and this...



Wow..time does fly.

Our daughter is going to Disney tomorrow with the orchestra/band/choir for a 6- day trip. Yep...she'll be totin' that cello down to the Magic Kingdom on charter buses
with 200 of her closest friends.

For 18 hours.

I know they'll have a ball!

I've tucked surprises in her suitcase for her to open each day, and wrapped chocolate bars with "Disney or Bust!" candy wrappers to share with friends.

However...

my best girlfriends and I are meeting at the school to console ourselves with mass quantities of chocolate as we smile and wave goodbye.

I don't want to hear stories about cutting apron strings...
I want chocolate and girlfriends to cry with.



Friday, February 10

snow!


source: http://www.maryengelbreit.com/

Yes,  Yes, Yes...we have snow!

and since no one knows how long it will last, 
today's post is short and sweet!

A Friday thought...
time flies, whether we're having fun or not,
so let's have fun!

If you're like us, I'll bet this weekend's calendar is already filled,
but tonight do something FUN!

We have plans to whip up snow ice cream,
roast marshmallows for s'mores, and enjoy pizza galore.

Let's do this together...

Laugh, lend a hand, say a kind word,
cheer someone up, deliver a secret surprise
...because yes, time does fly.

Happy Friday!


Thursday, February 2

6 more weeks of winter?!


It's official...

Punxsutawney Phil says 6 more weeks of winter! (Who?  Take a peek here if you haven't heard the latest.)

And that's just fine with me!  It means more of...

this...




this...





this...





and this!





Sadly, we haven't had a lot of snow this year; however, I'm sure we are
definitely, positively, absolutely going to have a bunch this month!


Yes, oodles! And you'll find us sleeping in during snow days from school, then waking up to enjoy cinnamon rolls, movie marathons, board games, homemade cocoa, crackling fires, snow ice cream, and settling in under a cozy quilt with a good book at the day's end. 

It's true...


I LOVE WINTER!


Stepping outside to do chores can be, I admit, tricky, depending on the ice or how deep the snow has fallen.  But oh how I love to stand still and watch the lacy snowflakes fall, listen to the birds chattering around the feeder, and take in the smell of woodsmoke in the air. Even the crunch of snow underfoot is a wintertime delight.

I always watch to see if the geese are flying overhead, and if I time it right, and I've found the perfect silent snow day, the sound of their wings can be heard.

Yes, I'm hoping Phil is right...I'm not ready for winter to be over just yet.


Saturday, January 21

getting together with the girls...


For me, January is a quiet time to catch my breath after the holidays. I feel as if I can relax a bit before jumping into the unknown adventures of a whole new year. It's a time to reflect on the past year, hopefully learn a thing or two, and then move forward.

Ahhh - 2017 stares me down with a to-do list that's a mile long. My plan? Look my list squarely in the eye and chip away at it as best I can.

However one item on my list will be easy...and that's to spend more time with girlfriends. The time flies...how does it happen? We wave from passing cars in the parking lot at school, text when we find a spare minute, and talk about how we really need to get together.

This year, I've made it a goal to do just that...get together!  I know we're all busy, but sometimes, we just need a day together...a day to laugh, a shoulder to cry on, or simply solving the world's problems sipping a death-by-chocolate milkshake.* 

And because we all get stirred up over those three little words...

"Do you work?"

Here's my handy-dandy invitation...







And so this year, my girlfriends and I are going to get together as often as we can...we already have plans to meet at our favorite farm sale, go out for lunch, start a friendship garden, walk the local trail, and help each other as we roll up our sleeves and begin painting, removing wallpaper, and sprucing up our homes.


"Help one another is the religion of our sisterhood."
-Louisa May Alcott



If you already get together often with girlfriends, share your ideas to get us inspired! And if you're like me, wondering how I can squeeze in one more thing, let's do this together.

Let's make this year one where we offer a hand, lend a shoulder, and make each other laugh.
I have the feeling sharing just a little bit more of myself, will make all the difference in making me a better person. 


Here's to a happy, happy New Year!





And if you're wondering what a death-by-chocolate milkshake is...

In a blender, add scoops of chocolate ice cream, drizzle chocolate syrup, add chocolate milk...whirl until blended, heaven!

make.
one.
now!







Tuesday, January 10

I love, Love, LOVE snow days!



When I look out the window and see this...





and this...




and then get a text alert that school is cancelled...I do a happy dance and build this!




Because I absolutely love snow days (or in our case, today was an ice day)!

I love that we all get to sleep in a little more...it's so wonderful settling back under the warm flannel sheets and cozy quilts. And finally, when I do pull myself out, I want to sneak downstairs before the kids are up and make cinnamon rolls...there's just something about waking up to that aroma...mmm.

The house is quiet, except for the crackle of wood in the fireplace, and soon I am sitting right in front of the hearth. Az, the orange tabby who stole our hearts when he appeared on the doorstep, is quite content to be curled up on a favorite blanket.

A crackling fire, a purring cat, and the sweet aroma of cinnamon rolls...these "always" things warm my heart. I will never forget my son asking for real hot chocolate several years ago. Looking at me he said, "You know, the kind made with love?" 

At home by the fire on this frosty day, I am keenly aware of how good life is.

A new year is here...time to ponder, time to plan...what will we do with the days given us? 







 
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