Welcome to our farmhouse…life is good!

Sunday, May 12

happy, happy day!

photo source

"You have nothing in this world more precious than your children. When you are old, when your hair turns white and your body grows weary, when you are prone to sit in a rocker and meditate on the things of your life, nothing will be so important as the question of how your children have turned out.

It will not be the money you have made.
It will not be the cars you have owned.
It will not be the large house in which you live.

The searing question that will cross your mind again and again will be,
'How well have my children done?' "

President Gordon B. Hinckley

Wednesday, April 24

spring cleaning whirlwind!

I'm spring cleaning, sprucing up, chasing dust bunnies...call it what you will, it's in full swing here!

The weather has turned and I do believe that spring is here to stay. We've mowed, collected fallen limbs, cleaned flower beds, and the coop has had it's spring cleaning as well...happy hens indeed.  I'm thinking I'll paint the inside of the coop and maybe even hang a chandelier, just for fun!

We're supposed to have some days that are picture-perfect, and so the to-do list should be much shorter soon...fingers crossed.

Well, time for me to get back to work, but I thought I'd share a few snapshots of what's happening in our corner of the world. 

beautiful skies...

found some retro-style goodies for Maizy 

a local craft store was having a big clearance sale...and I mean big,
70% off! 

Friends and I are thinking a Christmas in July get-together would be fun.

then I dressed her up with a few pillows stitched from vintage chenille...

I love looking out and seeing her glow at night...chances are it's a mother/daughter camp-out.

almost time for a jazz festival...

and a ballet recital

-Gordon B. Hinckley

Monday, March 25

happenings on the farm...

It's been a whirlwind of activity on the farm lately...

college visits with my sweet ballerina (where do the years go?)

preparations for an Eagle Scout project (my little man always laughing...again, time flies!)

And repair work started on the barn.

I wanted to share these photos I took while the roof was off...I thought the lighting was beautiful, and with any luck (meaning the roof holds tight!) we won't have the opportunity to see this again.

Maybe not everyone loves the old, chippy, primitive look...but it's my favorite. A barn filled with history...pegs, the faded remnants of a large painted Pepsi logo, wooden ladders, old silos, and stalls (just waiting to be filled...right, hubby?) 

Hey, everyone has their dreams...and I'm not getting any younger! Mine is to create a spot that my ballerina and laughing boy can come home to and relax from the hustle & bustle. A place they can one day bring their families to unwind and enjoy the quiet, the sound of owls in the woods, train whistles in the distance, peepers in the creek, and silence. A place for camp-outs in Maizy or a family-size tent, making s'mores and gazing at the stars. A place filled with sunflower gardens, sweet animals, and a little roadside stand.

"Keep your eyes on your dreams; however distant and far away."

-Jeffrey R. Holland

Tuesday, February 26

a spring tease...

This winter has been one to remember. While the weekend began clear and brilliant, soon a cutting wind swept across the open cornfields and began to rattle the windows. The local broadcast called for gusts up to 50 mph and so before nightfall, we had double-checked that our animals were safely tucked in and then we tightened down anything that could blow away. 

Candles and flashlights were ready if we lost power, the kerosene heater was handy, and firewood stacked by the kitchen door. We all slept a little uneasy that night...the tall pines surrounding the old farmhouse creaked and the wind whistled through any opening it could find. On nights like that, it feels as if the entire house will set sail. Of course it never does...it holds tight to the land and ignores such weather as it's done for 155 years.

In the morning, we woke to find everything was fine...a few more limbs in the yard and couple of tarps blown away, but nothing serious. However; the farm at the end of the road lost an enormous pine tree, narrowly missing their barn; while a few miles away friends were without power for about 10 hours.

Yes, definitely a winter we'll remember, and tomorrow "they" say it will be 50 degrees...we'll see.

And so today I thought I'd share a few summertime snapshots...believe it or not, it'll be here soon enough!

Wednesday, February 13

oh-so easy Valentine's Day treats!

Today I'll take a break from talking about the weather...

I won't tell you about the 1.21" of rain we received yesterday, closing roads and making everything muddy. The kind of mud that boots sink down into and make me wonder if they're actually going to be pulled off my feet with each step.

I won't tell you that today it's a blizzard...blinding snow paired with non-stop westerly winds (winds which once again remind us that plaster walls from 1864 can only do so much.)

What I will tell you is that in no time at all you can easily whip up lots of treats for tomorrow's big day! Inspired by some sweets I saw at a local store, why buy when it's a snap to make them at home?

Step one...

gather your favorite goodies; for us that's a collection of strawberries, cookies, pretzel rods, rice squares, and crisply cooked bacon. (YES, BACON!)

Step two...

place candy melts in a double boiler (for me, candy melts work better than melting chocolate chips - they seem smoother and hold their shape better after dipping.)

Step three...

dip goodies; top with sprinkles or drizzle with extra chocolate and set aside to cool and harden.

I hear a local pizza shop is baking heart-shaped pizzas...dinner's taken care of!

Tomorrow is special day for letting those we love know just how much we care...create some chocolaty treats, make a phone call, invite girlfriends over for afternoon tea, make heart-shaped pizzas with the kids, or leave a surprise on a friend's doorstep.

Let your heart be light!

Friday, February 8

snapshots of winter

Friday photos of winter in the heartland...and what a winter it's been!

Ice everywhere...

a snow-covered dinner bell...

in July this tree will be covered with mulberries!

and soon sheets will be drying in the summer breeze

somewhere under all the snow are cold frames that will be filled with lettuce, spinach, and cilantro

and this vintage sink will be full of garden veggies just waiting to be rinsed

and so it goes...

Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE winter...it's a much needed break from planting, tilling, trimming, weeding, mowing, mulching, mucking and all the other summertime chores. Chores that seem to come on the hottest, most humid of days. 

Now is the time for our bodies and spirits to unwind and relax...and that's just fine with me. Flannel sheets, thick socks, chocolaty cocoa, snow ice cream, old movies, good books, and warm fires. And did I mention the kids had 5 days in a row off from school thanks to Mother Nature?

Even with the sub-zero temperatures, frozen washer pipes, and the day both trucks had batteries that failed, I have to say, yep, life is still good.

Wherever you are, I hope you're warm & cozy!

Wednesday, January 30

swings & roundabouts...

swings & roundabouts.
six of one, half-dozen of another.
six and two threes.

However you say it, it means things even out.

Now I love a good January snowstorm, and once I know we're all safely settled in, along with the goats and chickens, barn cats and dog, a heavy snow gets me in the nesting frame of mind...I want to bake, watch a Cary Grant movie, and cozy up under a quilt.

However; when rain is predicted in January, and we know the temperature is going to plummet the same night, it is not something to look forward to.

First, 5 inches of snow settled on the farm, leaving drifts around the barns that were knee-high. Lovely snow...the picture-perfect kind of snow made for snowmen, sledding, and snow ice cream!

Then it came...within a couple of days the temperature raised to 42 degrees followed by pouring rain. At night it dropped to 18 degrees, and everything froze. We watched as the ice collected on the tree branches and powerlines...our farm is the last home on our power provider, which translates into being the last to be repaired if needed. We were as prepared as possible with wood stacked handily by the back door, kerosene heater filled, gasoline standing by for the generator, and candles ready to light. On nights like these, the kitchen sink tap is turned to a slow drip and we sleep a little restlessly.

Luckily for us, the power stayed on...all is well. A trip up the ladder to break ice in the gutter and the downspout, then a little brute strength to open car doors, and we were just fine.

This morning, I can hear ferocious winds whistling through the tall pines and see the branches swinging. Old Man Winter is rattling the windows and sending an icy blast through any nook and cranny that can be found in this 155-year old farmhouse. Yes, it's been much colder, so we are fortunate, while so many spots around the country are brutally cold. In our part of the Midwest it's -5 with a wind chill of -25...local schools sensibly decided to cancel classes for the next two days. 

We'll be outside to check on animals about every 4 hours and that means bundling up head-to-toe...Carhartt® overalls and a down vest, heavy coat, boots, gloves, and winter face masks. Warm? Yes. Stylish? Well, that depends on your sense of style...warmth over fashion for me today!

And so, how does this relate to swings and roundabouts? It means things all even out.

The temperature being forecast for next Tuesday is 55 degrees.


Hope wherever you are,  you're safe, warm, and cozy!

Saturday, January 19

making ready for the snowstorm...

Maple, oak, and spruce trees surrounding the farmhouse are holding steady as the wind howls across the empty fields. Fields that are so lovely in summer filled with tall corn swaying in the breeze, but fields that when harvested and empty allow the wind to blow ferociously against us with a mighty strength.

For our part of the Midwest, we're expecting 8 to 12 inches of snow today... and that's just fine with me. I love the idea of a good old-fashioned snowstorm...there's just something about it that brings out my Laura Ingalls pioneer spirit! 

We're ready...wood is stacked by the kitchen door, the pantry is full, animals have cozy spots to snuggle in and will enjoy treats at bedtime...apples for the goats, scratch for the hens. Outdoor chores are done and now I'm sitting inside, safe in the warmth of a country kitchen. Everything everywhere is cancelled...it's a day of good books, old movies, and yes, the occasional nap.

Today is also the perfect time for hot soup and homemade bread. I was gifted with a slow-cooker trio this past Christmas (three 1-1/2 quart slow cookers that share a base), and each mini cooker is filled with a different soup, so a bowl can be enjoyed whenever someone needs warming up. The kids are wanting to know if I'll make cookies. Of course! Nothing else goes so well on a frosty day with a favorite movie...add mugs of chocolaty cocoa and buttery popcorn and it's sure to be a long cozy day at home. Choosing the movie will be the hardest part: will it be an old classic like North by Northwest, The Great Race, or Father Goose? Or maybe something newer, say Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?

It doesn't really matter...as I've heard said:

"Home means more than where we hang our hat."

Sunday, January 13

Is there anyone who actually enjoys taking down the Christmas tree?

I've asked that question in the past...and I'll hear, "Yes! I can't wait to get things back to normal." While I'm sure that's true for many of you, that's never been the case for me. Taking down the tree is January's melancholy moment.

In December, opening up boxes of ornaments is like uncovering treasures!  Handmade decorations made from Popsicle sticks, outlines of little feet or hands, and colorful glass balls collected from favorite vacation spots...a little bell that reads, "Zion National Park", a Mark Twain Steamboat, the Chicago skyline and Navy Pier, and the sand dollar from Hawaii with a cheerful "Mele Kalikimaka" written on it.

Now it's true, at least for us, ornaments multiply when no one is watching. Don't ask me how, but I know we have enough ornaments for several trees! And somehow, the ornament boxes I have tucked away in a trunk never seem to haven enough spaces when it's time to fill them again.

I suppose this could be the reason...I found a few ornaments this year that seemed just right for our family.

Like this one...
our daughter had her braces removed, yay!
Now she can enjoy popcorn again!

One of our favorite places to eat always has bags of
cotton candy...I have to come home with at least 2 bags!
(hey, they're small bags!)

Our son is working on his Eagle Scout Project...
he wants to build Barn Owl nest boxes
(they're endangered in our area)
so this caught my eye.

He has also joined me in my love of hot peppers...
and this ornament came home, too!

And while this ornament isn't new,
now there's actually a sweet little camper
to enjoy...and Maizy is her name!

This ornament is from last year too;
however on Christmas I was gifted with a Candy Apple Red mixer!
(Such a sassy color for me!) My old Kitchenaid has been around
for nearly 30 years 
and works without a hitch, but does get
warm while 
mixing bread dough. This new one is much bigger, 
so now I can have both mixing up goodies at once...
perfect for the baking I do to sell at the farmers' market!

To make a long story short; no, our decorations are not packed away just yet...there's still one tradition that needs to happen...a camp-out under the tree. It really is beautiful falling asleep under all the twinkling lights.

When the time comes to pack away all the sweet memories, it will be a Blue Willow Society moment...I'll tell you more about that soon. It involves 2 dear friends, vintage Blue Willow teacups, and a steaming pot of herbal tea.

01 09 10