Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!


Monday, January 30

winter...the time for home

 


January seems to have flown by, and I feel like each day's weather brought something new. One day would be cold with chilly winds & rain, then the next morning we'd wake up to pretty spirals of falling snow that called to mind lace curtains dancing in the breeze. We've had gray mornings with snow piled up against the house & barns, and then afternoons with bright sunshine & blue skies. This week, they say we'll have single digit temperatures at night...there's nothing we can do but prepare; it is January after all. And that's okay with me, I think there's a certain warmth that comes to an old house in wintertime...candlelight paired with firelight always seems to me a cozy sight.

Like so many of you, January's found me keeping busy with "Winter Cleaning" as I've heard it called. No time for Spring Cleaning's traditional dust bunny chasing here...Spring is all about being outside. And so being the list-maker that I am, I've whipped up a lengthy To-Do...a room-by-room deep cleaning, sorting, organizing, and donating list. Off to the recycler went Tupperware lids with no bottoms and bottoms with no lids (does this only happen to me?) while magazines,  books, DVD's, and CD's we no longer enjoy have been passed along to a wonderful Friends of the Library shop our local library operates. We're lucky to have an environmental center that recycles worn tennis/athletic shoes, and I'm thinking about having a spring vintage-themed sale to pass on old glassware that seems to be taking over shelves and spilling out of boxes. Why not let someone else enjoy it and add to their collection? Oh I still have oodles to do, but it feels good to get a jump on some things. 




I love the rest that winter brings...time to plot & plan, scheme & dream. Time to put my feet up and settle in with a favorite book or good movie by 7 o'clock, and not feel guilty - because before I know it, outside work will call until nearly dark each day. And that's as it should be. Now we can do things that get put on the back-burner in warmer weather. Mother Nature needs time to rest, as do we. Winter isn't a season to get through...it has a beauty all its own. And for that, I am truly grateful.


Enjoy every day friends...





"Winter is the time for comfort,
for good food and warmth, 
for the touch of a friendly hand
and for a talk beside the fire:
it is the time for home."

-Edith Sitwell


Monday, January 9

new year, new goals...

Slipping into winter for our part of the Midwest has been gradual, except for the few days before Christmas when the "bomb cyclone" caused temperatures to suddenly drop and bring a wind was breathtakingly cold. Now, winter seems hardly noticeable with temperatures during the day in the 30's. And yet, stepping outside I'm greeted by the wisp of a chilly wind, and it reminds me yes, it's January, and snow and ice storms are most likely in the future.




This week my son went back to college...and believe me, while he was here we stuffed as much into every minute as possible - cooking favorite meals, baking non-stop, watching movies, and staying up way too late. It was good that he spent time catching up with high school friends for lunch or a movie, but for me, the best part was hearing the laughter between him and his sister...I'm always so grateful the kids are close. My daughter will be back at the ballet company next week, so her days will be long, and she's taking her last college classes, oh my time flies. So grateful she's here...we enjoy and laugh at so many of the same things!

If you remember the Grinch cookie cutters that were the pickle ornament gift, here's a look at some of their creations, and yes, they've named it a Blinch - a blue Grinch! 


                


Now it's time for me to get moving on a new year...working on my to-do list and ready to jump in. For me, this is the time of year for "Spring" cleaning...if I don't do it now, it'll never get done in Spring...that's the time for picking up fallen limbs from winter storms, giving the coop a deep clean, moving spent hay to the garden, and other odds & ends that come along with warmer weather and sunshine.

I love the sweet twinkle of tiny lights in winter...and I've asked the question before:

Does anyone truly enjoy taking down the Christmas tree?



Something that's so fun to put up, can be a bit melancholy to take down. Ours is always up through January, but this year, the tree is unusually dry and dropping needles, so I'll be un-decorating it (slowly) this week.

And whether the ornaments are very old,




or very new,

handmade, 

or hot & spicy
(my son and I LOVE peppers!),




of furry friends, 


baby feet,


or future plans,
(I'll share photos soon of the milk house
spruce-up for my cottage foods baking business)



This is always one of my very favorites...
(somewhat hard to read, but it says: Bless This Farm)



Now it's time to put my feet up and have another hot cocoa...even though it's a new year with new hopes & dreams, it's still important to enjoy the simple things: the quiet, the twinkle lights, the warmth, and the hush that is winter.








Monday, January 2

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year friends near and far...welcome to 2023! Sending you my wishes for the happiest, healthiest, loveliest year ever! 

And before we begin, if you'd like a little wintertime tune, Lindsay Stirling's Ice Storm is just right.


I stumbled upon this quote and thought it described me perfectly...it's taken from The Murmuring Cottage, which you can visit here (oh, the most beautiful photos...)




That sums me up to a T in winter. I live by the seasons, and time here just seems to have a flow to it. Perhaps it's seeing the months pass on a farm: planting, growing, harvesting, then welcome hibernation. It's an easy flow where the days slip one into another.

And with that flow of time, like so many, we were greeted with the "Bomb Cyclone" that came our way Friday December 23 when the high for the day was -4 F.  Space heaters were doing their best, along with a roaring fire, furnace, blankets, hot chocolate, warming tea, slow cooker of soup...whatever it took to stay cozy for 3 days.

Today as I write, it is 62 degrees warmer than it was on our coldest days before Christmas...it was a frosty -8 F with a bone-chilling wind making it feel as if it was -30 F. There's nothing much that can be done except bundle up and move quickly when going outdoors. Goats & chickens were kept safe & cozy with extra everything, birds of every color visited the feeders, and when Bailey and I went outside, she was oh-so speedy!



the kitchen garden under snow, 



Bailey & Azzie snuggle,
 


For Christmas, I always hide 3 pickle ornaments for the kids to find
on the small tree. When they find them, there's an extra little family present.
This year it was Grinch cookie cutters - more sweets to bake and eat!



Decorations will stay up for the month of January; however, I've tucked away the Santas. I always hate to put this fella away, he's one of my favorites.



now in his spot are a snowman & snowflake. 




Well, now it's time to make those Grinch cookies! I'll be back soon, with more
TAILS 
from the farm!






Friday, December 23

fingers crossed...

It's two days before Christmas and right now I'm settled in by the fireplace having (yet another) mug of hot chocolate. The fire is crackling, which is such a comforting sound, contrasting sharply with the sound of icy, gusty wind that's making the windows in this old house rattle like the rigging on a sailboat caught in a storm. 

I say fingers crossed, because I'm afraid that if I actually say "it", I may jinx myself. Let's just say with a temperature of -8 degrees and a wind chill of -30, I'm so grateful that the Elektron (in Greek) is still on and hasn't even flickered.

Yesterday allowed for just one more chance to check and double-check lists for anything that might need doing, while at the same time my phone continued to alert me of a Winter Storm Warning. Outside I noticed gentle rain showers, as the temperature was still fairly warm at 40 degrees. Then, sure enough, as the evening sun plunged below the horizon, the temperatures plunged with it and flurries danced in the wind. 

Now it's about time for another trip outside to get goats & chickens tucked in for the night. Bailey and I will bundle up head to toe (or for her, head to paw), and while we're certainly not stylish, we'll be as warm as possible and moving as quickly as possible.

And so, just in case we do lose Elektron, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas. May you be warm, safe, and enjoying this special time of year.

Below is the greeting you'll find on our door, and below it, one of my very
favorite Christmas quotes.





"Children all over the world are eagerly awaiting midnight
and the arrival of Santa Claus.

In a few hours from now, many of you will attend midnight
services in the church of your faith.

It is the Silent Night, the Holy Night, it is the solemn,
thought provoking night that precedes the dawn of another joyful Christmas.

Of the many gifts men cherish most this Christmas Eve,
surely the one all spirits yearn for, is the illusive gift of peace. 

Peace on earth good will toward men, so it was eloquently
phrased in ages past.

May each and every one of you find that abiding peace in
your own hearts this Christmas Eve.

And if enough of us, in enough places, earnestly and bravely
seek out such peace, the world cannot help but heed this
growing desire for lasting good.

So amid all your holiday rejoicing, pause for just a moment,
won't you? To add your silent prayer to the fulfillment
of that great promise:

peace on earth, good will toward men."


-Harold Peary
The Great Gildersleeve radio show, 1940-1954


Monday, December 19

when the weather forecast says...


There's nothing like reading this when skimming the early morning news...


POTENTIAL PRE-CHRISTMAS BOMB CYCLONE
COULD BRING BLIZZARD CONDITIONS.

A MAJOR STORM, NAMED WINTER STORM ELLIOT,
COULD BRING HIGH WINDS UP TO 50-MPH,
AND BITTERLY COLD AIR.



Well, that will get the mind racing! As always, when predictions like this are the leading new story, overnight we'll see grocery shelves become low or completely bare of basic supplies. And while I keep food storage and water on hand, I admit, I do add a few more items to the shelves,
"just in case." 

Living on a farm, there are always extras added to the "to-do" list when the forecast is like this one. Immediately I think of 4 things: food, water, heat, and animal care. 

Food: 

check food storage, and know that cooking in the fireplace, on a camp stove, or grill is always an option if the power is out.

Water: 

there are two large tanks in the basement - one 60-gallon and one 30-gallon, both filled with water. Without city water, no power here means the water pump won't run, so no water.

Heat: 

There are 4 cords of firewood in the barn, along with extra wood that could be split if needed. It's time to double-check the kerosene and small propane heaters and generator, and also to see how much fuel is on hand. 

Animal care:

By late October, heat lamps have been secured and heated water buckets are set up. Tarps are also in place to help block cold air. Chickens will get scratch and warm mash to help keep them warm, and goats will get extra feed and grains.

And then there are odds & ends...

plug the outside dryer vent with quilt batting so the washer lines don't freeze in the laundry room (don't forget to run out in the freezing cold to unplug the vent when it's time to dry laundry) 

and run an extra-long, extra-hot dishwasher cycle to help prevent the dishwasher water lines from freezing. Yes, both of these have happened, and the repairs are just too expensive to take a chance and not do them.

Whew, while preparing for Old Man Winter, we're still making ready for Christmas, so I thought I'd share a few photos:


from a favorite prim/antique shop...





I found an 1850-60's Oakleaf Wreath cutter quilt piece 
that was too sweet to pass up


And keeping it real...

this tangled mess is what I discovered when I pulled out the tree lights.
Really? What was I thinking last year?!



The countdown is on friends...I hope you're settled in and cozy surrounded by twinkling lights, candlelight, with your feet up, sipping chocolaty cocoa. 

 


Sunday, December 11

baking with Mae...

When the December sky is a gun-barrel gray and any warmth from the sunshine is lost behind the thick clouds and blown away by the brisk winds, there is always something that I know will bring me warmth...baking in the farmhouse kitchen. 

Built 158 years ago, I often think back to the many women who prepared meals in this old farmhouse, and as someone who loves history, it's been fun over the years to cook in the kitchen fireplace...an antique tin kitchen/reflector oven makes the best roast turkey! 

But this past week, it was Mae and I who did the baking. Just for fun, I've named some of my vintage items...the little 1963 Camper is Maizy, my road-side find 1956 sewing machine is Fern, and Mae is my 1950 Hotpoint stove. Mae is a big 40-inch-wide workhorse...if you'd like, you can read the story of how she came to the farm here.  With 2 ovens she can bake double what I could before - she's a gem!

Pies were needed for a church get-together, and then I thought I'd try a couple of recipes from my blogging friends.

Staci at Life at Cobble Hill Farm, was kind enough to share her recipe for cranberry-orange biscotti - I've never made biscotti before, but I love the combination of cranberries & orange...it was wonderful!

Not nearly as pretty as Staci's - I need to work on my rolling/cutting skills, but they were oh-so delicious!




Then I wanted to make the sticky ginger cake from Jules at Along the WayExcited to try her recipe, I dusted off my food scale and I was meticulous in converting grams to cups.

However...my apologies Jules. I didn't choose the correct pan size, so I had an overflowing, not-so-pretty loaf. Well, to try and save the day, I used my cookie dough scoop and made sticky ginger balls. Again, not the exact recipe from Jules, but the flavor was amazing and it's a recipe I'll make again (with a larger pan!)





This coming week will find my son home from college for Christmas break...he has a couple more exams and my daughter just completed hers - and so the holidays begin!

In a drafty old country farmhouse on a cold December evening, it's time for me to settle in on this Sunday evening...a cozy blanket, a mug of cocoa, and our local PBS station is showing 3 back-to-back episodes of All Creatures Great and Small...heaven for me!

I'll say goodbye with a photos of Santa on the blue barn shelves and some of my favorite ornaments on the little old-fashioned tree.







...have a good week, friends!




Friday, December 2

on the mend!

A short note to say "Thanks" to all for the sweet get-well messages...COVID has passed, now to get on with the fun of the holiday season!

I'm one who loves tradition...pumpkin carving, decorating the tree, sparklers on the 4th of July. And so to give Thanksgiving and Fall their due, I never put up any Christmas decorations until December 1 - except this year, I did! 


Source: Unknown


I know, I know, it's not like me; however, while preparing for Thanksgiving my daughter thought it would be nice if her brother came home that week and there was holiday sparkle to welcome him...something to help push aside the stresses of freshman year at college and the pressures of mid-term exams. 

What a great idea! Mantels were decorated, wreaths on the doors, greenery draped along the porch, skinny tree positioned in the front window. And you know what? She was right! It added a bit more fun to those few days, and honestly, now the month of December has less things on the "to-do" list. 

Saturday we took our usual trek to the tree farm, the day was gorgeous (and believe me, when it's rainy/muddy/icy/freezing, it is not the magical experience it should be.)  The kids found the prettiest tree and now it's in place with just white lights...when exams are over in a couple of weeks, and we're all together, we'll complete the decorating. 


        


A couple of years ago I remember reading this:

Christmas is not a competition
of how decorated your house is,
of how perfectly perfect your gifts are,
of how busy your days and nights are,
of how much baking you do,
of how many homemade gifts you can crank out,
of how beautiful your family is (or appears to be).
let's all. 
just. 
STOP.

I've always thought it was one of the best posts I've ever read...you can find it here

And so in an effort to continue to follow that advice, this is what I'm looking at right now...trying to keep it simple while holding onto traditions. 




And so it's the end of another week...I hope you're cozy, feet up, and easing into this wonderful time of year. 



Wednesday, November 23

Thanksgiving week in the Midwest...

 

A few snapshots of what's happening around the farm...


a gorgeous sunrise,



and lovely sunset, 


spying a vintage corn crib 
sigh...

old-fashioned corn shocks,



November clouds above the water,



and a little pre-Christmas decorating on my old Hoosier cupboard.



And what else did Thanksgiving week bring us?
(wait for it...)

Let's pull back a little from Santa...
Are those N95 masks?




Why yes, they are! Thanksgiving week has brought us Covid! 

Vaccinated - check
Boosted - check

I can truly say it's the worst I have ever felt. Sunday and Monday are a blur; however, I'm grateful to be bouncing back...pies are in the oven now and homemade bread and sage stuffing will be baking tomorrow morning.

And no, I won't be able to enjoy the heavenly aroma or savor the taste...what cruel Covid symptoms. 

Really...a loss of taste and smell, and it had to be Thanksgiving week? 


And so it goes...there's still the joy of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by the National Dog Show. I love tradition, and settling in with Bailey to enjoy both of those will make the day even better.


Ahhh snuggling with her stuffed pig and egg!


I'm so thankful for your friendships across the miles. Wishing you all a day of peace wherever you may be.




Tuesday, November 8

shifting focus...


In reading your blogs, I'm always inspired by what you're doing wherever you are in the world...all across the United States, to Great Britain, and to New Zealand. Whether it's outings on the fells, cozy family get-togethers at the lake, clever cupboardscapes that change with the seasons, or inspiration for simple living and homesteading, I always learn something new.

All of your wonderful blogs have me now shifting focus, working harder to settle into a more observant phase of life...as the song says,


"Breathe before your breath runs out.
This is life don't miss it." 


Yes, there's always work to do, but there's also a need to enjoy the small & simple things. I remember hearing once that we all get caught up thinking real life is just a little farther down the road...enjoy the season you are in.

As the photos scroll by on my video below, listen closely to the words: the song is Don't Miss It sung by Francesca Battistelli.

You'll see snapshots of life on the farm, the pumpkin patch, snippets from a mother-daughter weekend road trip, and other seemingly small things...

things that are much more important
 than their simplicity might suggest.


Thanks to all of you who inspire me...I wish we were neighbors!





Friday, November 4

Friday freebie!

So on the way to the "big city", I passed a cute little wicker chair on the side of the road...sitting next to a trash can, someone was tossing it out.

"Hmmm" I thought...wheels turning.

Now, I don't normally give roadside trash a second look...except, well I did, (click here) but you have to admit, snagging a free 1956 workhorse of a sewing machine like this was the find of the year!

Anyway, when I passed by a couple days later, it was still there...alas, no time to stop. I'd made up my mind though, if it was sitting there later in the day when I was on my way home, it was mine. 

And it was! I quickly made a bee-line for it...pulled in the drive, popped it in the back of the car, and yay, it was coming home with me!




I added a $2.00 pillow and soon I was smiling at my free find...sitting in the sunshine by the little kitchen garden, she makes me happy. Now, her seat is weak...no sitting in it, but still, she was just too cute to pass up!


So, have you ever found a freebie that was just too good not to come home with you?!











Monday, October 31

merry Hallowe'en!

First, thank you to all those who expressed such kind thoughts and words on my last post as I struggled with a feeling of helplessness...paired with the mounting frustration that our vet would not reply to my calls, or at the very least, have an on-call replacement available. In my eyes, the welfare of an animal should always come before personal niceties...a letter has been sent. While I don't expect a reply, I feel as if I've done all that I can do. And just maybe, he will think twice and return a desperate call from the next client who finds herself in the same situation.


from the cutest little blog on the block!
(Susan Branch - click here)


Hallowe'en...I have to say, I just love it! No, not the gruesome movies or gory costumes, but the old-fashioned fun of carving pumpkins, seeing little ones dressed up as pirates or princesses, a dinner of mummy dogs, along with a 1940's  old-time radio show mystery starring Vincent Price, or even a funny Hallowe'en show with The Great Gildersleve. 

Here's a quick look at this year's pumpkins...the warm, rainy October days have definitely given them the perfect Hallowe'en wrinkles!






A visit to the pumpkin patch on a beautiful blue-skied day...we were welcomed by a terrific pumpkin-colored barn and a cozy spot to sit down and enjoy a little pumpkin tic-tac-toe!






Happy Hallowe'en to all...these days will go by before we know it - enjoy every day of this beautiful, autumn season.



 
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