Welcome to our farmhouse…life is good!


Sunday, April 5

our weekend...


Yesterday was a buzz of activity...a sunshiny day filled with the sounds of a rumbling mower, the fragrance of freshly-cut grass, and toe-tapping Glenn Miller tunes were filling the air while I weeded gardens and raked leaves. The kids stretched their legs by taking a walk down to a nearby horse farm and came back with this...awww, it warmed my heart. 




Compared to Saturday, today is a quiet day...the sky is cloudy with a drizzle of rain. It's a day that begs us to curl up, read, and be together. A day of rest that we all need.

Many years ago someone said to me, "Atmosphere is everything!"  And I laughed about it...really?  So many other things to be focused on...atmosphere? Well, she was a bit over-the-top, so I brushed it off and rolled my eyes,...atmosphere? Pshaw! 

Well, maybe she wasn't all wrong...lavish, over-the-top isn't my style, but through the years I have started to focus on the peaceful effect of atmosphere. So today, after chores and before kids were up, I started a fire, lit some candles, turned on classical music, and put an apple & cinnamon danish in the oven to bake. When everyone is awake, I want this old farmhouse to feel warm, cozy, safe.

It helps, during this time when we're all hunkered down, that we have room to roam, gardens to weed, acres to mow...it keeps the mind and body active. Of course kids are busy with schoolwork, but getting outside, hearing the birds sing, watching the farmers prepare for planting, and waving to neighbors is good for the heart.

For me, there is also comfort in the quiet shadows...either early or late. The sun rising on the start of a brand new day, or setting at the end of a day completed...











And here's a new shadow...
a 1950 Hotpoint stove.




You can call me crazy, but even THIS brings me comfort. Yep, she barely fits, and when I get a kitchen re-do some day, she'll be the happy centerpiece. When our oven quit last week, I was on the lookout for a double oven...while this wasn't what I had in mind, she was meant to be.  I'll tell you more in my next post.

A friend told me, just like vintage campers, vintage stoves need names too...hmmm, wonder what I'll be brainstorming today?  Any suggestions?!


Tuesday, March 17

farmhouse thoughts....


Normally I would begin a March post a little something like this...



Heading outside for chores today found a lingering chill in the March air. The skies were grey and the ground was muddy from yesterday's blowing rain. What a change...only a few days ago the sun was shining, the sky was blue, and we could hear peepers singing from the creek back in the woods. Yes, March is fickle and not to be trusted...a month where we have cheery days that help break the spell of cabin fever, only to wake up to find snow the next morning.


However; with the news changing almost hourly, today is not a normal March day. 


After receiving an email asking students to empty their lockers, my son and I went to the high school early this morning. Currently the school is closed until April 6 and the students will be studying from home. My daughter is also home for 3 weeks from her first year at college, and while the university hasn't officially closed, we're certain it will only be a matter of time. 

These days are filled with so many emotions for all of us...we're anxious, worried, and sleepless.

And while our kids are settling into an online routine for classes and lectures, the mom in me wants to make this time as comfortable and "normal"  as it can be under the circumstances. We all know the need to wash hands, cover coughs, social distancing, etc. but what about making the most of this time together?

I jotted down a few thoughts for us and wanted to share...maybe they will spark some ideas for your family. And please, share any ideas you have!





~  make time for family games...board games, Wii games, hide & seek, Uno, jacks, and
    checkers  


~  cook together...last night we built a fire, roasted hot dogs, and made s'mores

~  get outdoors...walk a country lane, see what's sprouting in the back yard, or take a hike in the
    woods  (although I will warn you, we've already seen our first tick!) blow bubbles, twirl a
    baton, play tag


~  on that walk, look for bare branches for forcing...bring a little springtime inside. Cherry,
    crabapple, or forsythia are ideal: just cut branches sharply at an angle and put them in room
    temperature water. 


~  have fun with meals...today is Saint Patrick's Day, how about some green eggs & ham for
    dinner?


~  make time for a movie marathon...some of our favorites are Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings,
    Operation Petticoat, North by Northwest, The Sound of Music, The Great Race, The Music Man,
    and Sherlock Holmes 


~  settle in with a favorite book and cup of herbal tea, or snuggle in bed and read to little ones


They're just a few ideas, but while we're all in close quarters, noses to the grindstone, it seems like a good idea to have a little fun, too. 

Sending good wishes to your family from ours. 















Tuesday, March 3

time flies...


Time flies as they say...whether you're having fun or not, and now I'm still in deep cleaning mode...sorting clothes, books, magazines, oh how paperwork sneaks into our lives and somehow multiplies!

Our Midwest weather has gone from...

foggy,


to icy,

to snowy, 
to snow that
magically hangs mid-air, 




 finishing with
beautiful sunsets.




Today it's muddy, which doesn't make a pretty picture...it's a day for boots and raincoats, dodging puddles, and trying not to slip and slide between taking care of the chickens and goats...that's so much easier said than done.

Although I'm not ready to clean and paint the milkhouse just yet...still too much to do inside right now, I have been brainstorming on ideas to go with the colors and retro theme I want.

Here's a sneak peek at what I spent way too much time working on last night - a sign to let friends & neighbors know what they'll find inside. There are so many fun retro images, fonts, and colors out there, it took time, but I finally narrowed it down to some I liked best...






My grandmother called me Maizy and that's the name of our 1963 camper, so that name just felt right for this new adventure.

Now to tinker with tags...ages ago I kept a MaryJanes Farm magazine (Feb-Mar 2011) that had some terrific advice.

She said:
"let tags see beyond the item you're selling, let them see YOU, put a face to just-another-this-or-that for sale...a good tag can leave a lasting impression, flavor it with YOU"

So now, on the advice of someone who has a tag I love, I'm going old-school...no computer layering, sizing, templates, or special effects...I'll copy some of my favorite images, cut, paste, add a little this & that then see what happens. 

Just for fun, today's silly holiday is "National Cold Cuts Day" and "33 Flavors Day...a day dedicated to Ice Cream"  

That just made me laugh...so tonight we'll be making subs and stopping at our favorite ice cream shop...yep, time flies, so let's have fun!




Wednesday, February 5

winter weather and farm stand colors...



Can we just talk about the weather? 

Monday it was 62 degrees and I couldn't resist...it was the perfect day for hanging laundry on the clothesline...blue skies, brilliant sunshine, and a warm breeze from the south. Now don't get me wrong, there's nothing like the sweet scent of freshly-laundered sheets and towels that have been dried outside...but in February?

Right now we have freezing rain and all fingers are crossed for a day off from school...or at least a delay. Tomorrow's forecast is for snow, sleet, and ice...as we like to say, it is a higgledy-piggledy winter.

And so, in the middle of all this up & down weather, I'm spring cleaning (that definitely needs another name) Really, who can wait until spring? Am I the only one who dives into deep cleaning mode right after the Christmas decorations are tucked away?

I'm also plotting & planning...if you go back a couple of posts, you'll find one about pies, and how I'm hoping to turn the milkhouse into a Saturday farmstand. Our local year 'round farmer's market closed for renovation over a year ago and has yet to open, so I started thinking why not offer the same cottage foods from our farm?  

I'm thinking in-season fruit pies along with family favorites such as Miss Lisa's chocolate chip pie, and blue-ribbon winning Texas Trash and Junkberry pies.  I've been brainstorming and making lists of all our favorites...goodies like Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies, gingersnaps, and chocolate mint cookies, then I added checkerboard cake and homebaked Dakota and English Toasting breads to the list, along with jars of honey. When summer is in full swing, I can offer fresh veggies, herbs, and Mason jars of blooming flowers.


 “I always say it's never too late to begin a long-held dream,
or take a risk on a new one you didn't see coming!"


—Deb Bosworth,
Beach Farmgirl, MaryJanes Farm


Saturday I spied a table that was on sale for song...here's a close up of the drawer and knob:



Why yes...it did come home with me!



And that color instantly inspired me on the colors I want to use inside the milkhouse. While I love warm, cozy, prim colors for our farmhouse, they just didn't seem quite right for a farmstand. 

But these did!

How could I not love colors with names like Aggie's Shawl, Dancing Slippers, Ruby Earbobs, and Clara's Cape?  




And they are perfect pairing with the colors I used for the roadside stand last summer...





Now I'm off to think of a clever, eye-catching farmstand name...any suggestions?


 “The most difficult thing is the decision to act,
the rest is merely tenacity.” 

—Amelia Earhart








Monday, January 20

settling into the new year...


I'm finally ready to settle back into posting, after promising myself that I'd not let one, single thing interrupt the first Christmas now that our daughter has started college.

I found myself trying to make everything just right for all of us...baking cookies, making favorite meals, cozy flannel sheets and blankets to curl up in, non-stop holiday music, and wrapping secret surprises. 

We went to get our Christmas tree on December 21st...which is about 3 weeks later than usual, but we wanted all of us to be together to make the trek to our favorite tree farm, and while I was worried about the crowds, there was no need...we were the only ones roaming the hills looking for the  "perfect" tree.  The weather couldn't have been better...beautiful blue skies, with temperatures brisk enough to feel the spirit of the season, but not too cold or muddy (which has definitely happened in the past.)

We hopped on the cheery red bus...




and made our way over the hills where our son found ice that resembled a reindeer...




and then a squirrel!




the perfect tree was found, loaded on a sled, and pulled down the hill.




Inside we enjoyed lunch by a crackling fire then headed home with our treasure. 

During December we had our usual "must-do's" with a visit to the wildlights at the zoo...




and what we call our annual downtown tour of lights, time spent looking in decorated shop windows and walking the town square...





For New Year's Eve my son whipped up his spicy gumbo and my daughter made tortellini alfredo...it was fun to cook with them in the kitchen. Together we made sweet treats like Buckeyes, Charlie Brownies, oodles of cookies, and pies. We watched movies, stayed up late, slept in, and tried to hold onto every minute.

The month flew by as I tried to squeeze every possible thing into every single day, and before I knew it, it was time for school to start and for college classes to begin. It was a long and somewhat quiet 3-hour drive back to, and home from, college.

I once heard someone say that after high school graduation, "Things will never be the same."

I guess that's true...don't get me thinking about it too much, I'll just get weepy. 

What I want is for this old farm to be a place where they always feel comfortable...staying as often as they can, and for as long as they'd like. A quiet spot away from the rigors of college and the stresses of life.  

Oh yes, there's much on my to-do list, but I feel determined...here's to 2020!











Wednesday, December 4

pies...


Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  We had what we like to call, 


"The Feeding Frenzy for Four" 

which is all the usual Thanksgiving goodies, plus extras for leftovers the rest of the week. Don't you just love leftovers?!  Not only a quick reheat for a terrific dinner, but also sandwiches galore.  And the pies...this year the kids wanted the chocolaty goodness of Toll House Pie and hubby wanted his grandmother's Transparent Pie (think of it as pecan pie without the pecans.)

And speaking of pies, I've been plotting & planning, dreaming & scheming. Since our local year 'round farmers' market has closed for remodeling, I've been thinking about how else to sell my allowable cottage foods...breads, cookies, pies, honey, etc. So I made a few calls and I've found that I can sell goodies from the farm...or more specifically right from our milk house. (do you see the wheels turning?)

And after watching a PBS story about Poorhouse Pies, I became inspired - read their story here...





Then, in the middle of all this plotting & planning, I was gifted with a corner cupboard...perfect for holding baked goods. A few days later I uncovered a tabletop pie safe in a local shop. Do you see where this is going?

With Royer's Pie Haven providing more inspiration! (take a peek here)




After Christmas I'll be spending my snowy winter days making plans to spruce up the milk house...I'll take before & after photos to share.  But this is what I'm aiming for...

a retro vibe...

Pie Makes It All Better Wood Sign by ZietlowsCustomSigns on Etsy, $23.00   




with lots of color

(more from Royer's...
aren't they adorable?!)




















Oh, I have oodles of work to do, but as I've said before...Never Stop Dreaming!

Sunday, November 17

prepping the coop for winter along with a little revamp!


Yesterday, as we worked hard to cross off some things on the never-ending To-Do List, I said to my hubby, "I really need to remember to have outdoor things wrapped up by the end of October!"  Even though the sun was shining, the wind was brisk and it was chilly. Sporting winter garb...coats, gloves, and with hoods up and earmuffs on, Hubby was cutting boards for the goat fencing, I was painting them, and together with our son we moved limbs to a woodpile that will surely be a spectacular bonfire when the time is right. 

Each fall I add a heavy tarp to the smaller section of the chicken coop run...it helps keep out wind and drifting snow, and gives the girls a place to stretch their legs during the winter storms. I add a heated waterer to the coop, and I have to tell you, this year I found a brand that I think is terrific!  Each year I use the traditional waterer and have always said there must be a better design.  The hole to refill it was so small water was always splashing as it was begin refilled. Then there's the agility test to flip it over as quickly as possible without spilling the water again...each year it's incredibly frustrating.

However; this year, I found a new design in our local feed store and I love it!  It has a large opening on the bottom for easy filling, a screw lid and handle, so I can actually fill it and carry it easily. No more spills!  It has an egg-shaped top to keep perching at bay, and a filter that's easy to remove and clean out all the pine shavings that my girls insist on kicking into the water.  Click here: to take a look...I can't recommend it enough, and no, I am not being paid to endorse it. It's simply a great reinvention of an old design!

I went down the winter check-list for the coop...

secure tarps around the smaller run

check doors/windows to make sure they close tightly
check the roof for leaks

check for cracks or holes in the coop that would let in cold air
add fresh pine shavings

secure heat lamp/test bulb*
feed tin full
extra forage cakes/scratch

heated waterer


*I know many people don't add heat to their coops, but I've found that in our area, where nighttime winter temperatures can drop into the single digits, I want to keep the girls warm. Even with our insulated coop, the open fields around it mean the wind chill can be incredibly cold. Before clamping the lamp to a ceiling beam, I make sure the wiring is in good shape and the bulb is new. I also make sure the lamp is tucked into a corner so the girls can get out from under the heat if they want to.

Now the girls (and one bachelor) will be warm & cozy when the snow flies!

Earlier this spring I did a little revamp on the coop...some paint, vintage-style signs from the feed store, a solar lantern for a little indoor light, and colorful tea towels stitched into curtains made all the difference. Here's a quick peek:


 






I found this old screen door in the back of the barn...it is so heavy (which means the girls will be safe) and was a perfect fit for the coop door. It was so nice to have the girls enjoy a little breeze on the hot summer days.


And so that was our week on the farm...next week I'm preparing for our daughter to come home from college for Thanksgiving break, our son's 16th (gulp) birthday, and a friend will be bringing me a prim cupboard soon that will be perfect for the "shop" I'm planning for our milk house.  Will show you that when it's here!  So excited to make plans this winter for it...remember: never stop making wishes!





 

Monday, November 11

cat tales...




Look at that face.
Look at those eyes.
LOVE
THIS
CAT!

It's way past time you met Azreal, or Azzie as he's sometimes called. Several years ago he simply showed up here on the farm, like so many other cats and dogs have over the years. I have no idea how he found us, but I am so glad he did.

He arrived not long after our family had seen The Smurfs movie in 2011, and the kids immediately named him after the funny cat from the movie.

We have decided that Azzie is a Dog-Cat.

What is a Dog-Cat?  Well, it's a name we've made up for a cat that's definitely more dog-like than cat-like.

First of all, and don't ask me how this came to be, he is housebroken. No litter box. Ever. I didn't try to housebreak him,  he's simply wired that way. When he needs to go out, he'll stand at the door just like a dog would, patiently waiting to be let out.

Secondly, he never scratches furniture...I don't know how this came to be either because it goes against every fiber of a cat's being.

When he's outside, he's doing the usual cat things...climbing trees, pouncing on leaves blowing in the wind, or simply finding a warm spot in the sunshine to nap.

But once he's inside, he's all dog...he'll find the softest blanket and knead it until he's made a perfect nest to settle into. It might be an afternoon nap or maybe he's curling up at the end of the day, but whenever he is, Azzie is very particular about his blanket...only a Vera Bradley will do. And I can't argue...they are wonderful! 

Then, when it's time to call it a night, he can be found curled up at the foot of the bed...very dog-like. Each morning, he hops off the bed, heads to the door, and it starts all over again.

While I'll never know how he came to make this his home, as I reflect on all the things I am grateful for, I would be remiss if I didn't add Azzie's name to the list...our family thinks he's absolutely wonderful!




 
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