Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Saturday, December 31

happy new year!

From our family to yours...wishing you a new year filled with all the good things life has to offer. 
May 2012 find you surrounded by family & friends, making sweet memories that will last a lifetime.

Thursday, December 29

glimpses of Christmas weekend...

The weekend began by celebrating the wedding of this lovely couple.

Then, on Christmas Eve day, Little Man was baptized.
It was a sweet gathering of family & friends...a day to remember.

We shared Christmas morning smiles...

and absolute surprises!

It's days like this, when all is aglow with the spirit of the season,
that we're reminded the best gifts and greatest joys
come from the heart.

Saturday, December 24

merry Christmas!

To all our friends, new and old, we wish you a day filled with warmth, love, and happiness. 

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21

candy cane sugar scrub...

If you're looking for a stocking stuffer, this jar of sugar scrub smells terrific, and is oh-so easy to whip up.

Candy Cane Sugar Scrub
3 c. sugar
1 c. sunflower oil*
10 drops peppermint oil

Stir all ingredients together; spoon into jars.
*I always use sunflower oil because it doesn't have a scent.

Add a Christmas label, and you could even tie on a vintage spoon or small scoop.
That's it, you're done! Your jar of  scrub is ready to tuck into a stocking or share with a friend.

I think I'll leave one for the Big Guy!

Sunday, December 18

taking Christmas photos (or trying to)...

Yesterday brought our first snow! The kids were thrilled and couldn't wait to get outside and play.
It was also the perfect time for taking some Christmas pictures. Yes, yes...I am a bit late in getting cards out this year; however I blame Mother Nature. I mean, who wants to take Christmas pictures in the pouring rain or dodging mud puddles?

Anyway, let's not focus on that.

We decided to walk out to the woods for pictures, so off we went. As I looked for good spots to snap some photos (translated this means places where they wouldn't sink in the mud or fall into the creek) , I was reminded that our kids are terrific, even wonderful when it comes to taking silly pictures...

and creating special effects...

and even trying to hide from the camera.                

However; for ever 50 of those I get, I get one of these...
a lean in for a quick kiss on the cheek, 

which leads to a sweet hug...

Yep...they're keepers.

Thursday, December 15

Nativity display...

A couple of weeks ago our family had the opportunity to visit a  Nativity exhibit that featured over 600 Nativities. Some were very large, and one was tiny enough to fit into a walnut! Shared by many people,
they were from all around the world. Each was different from the next, but all were so lovely, they truly brought the spirit of Christmas to our hearts.

Here are just a few to share...

And so as you hang tinsel, wrap presents, and enjoy the fun of keeping secrets, I hope your days leading up to Christmas are filled with all the sweetness and love of the season.

Friday, December 9

thoughts about aprons...

Aprons have become trendy...fashionable...stylish. It's easy to find them for sale in any color, fabric, or style our hearts desire. And because our "girls" are such fun, I'm almost done stitching together an apron in a cheery red & yellow chicken print. I admit I'm a part of the crowd...I find aprons absolutely wonderful and I admit to owning several.

I think the comeback of this old-fashioned necessity is a good thing. However; long before they were all the rage, aprons came from humble beginnings.

A friend forwarded this poem and photo to me, and I was reminded of how it touched my heart as I tied on my own apron this morning.  I thought you'd enjoy reading it as well.

The strings were tied, it was freshly washed, and maybe even pressed.
For Grandma, it was everyday to choose one when she dressed.
The simple apron that it was, you would never think about;
the things she used it for, that made it look worn out.

She may have used it to hold some wildflowers that she'd found.
Or to hide a crying child's face when a stranger came around.
Imagine all the little tears that were wiped with just that cloth.
Or it became a potholder to serve some chicken broth.

She probably carried kindling to stoke the kitchen fire.
To hold a load of laundry, or to wipe the clothesline wire.
When canning all her vegetables, it was used to wipe her brow.
You never know, she might have used it to shoo flies from the cow.

She might have carried eggs in from the chicken coop outside.
Whatever chore she used it for, she did them all with pride.
When Grandma went to heaven, God said she now could rest.
I'm sure the apron that she chose, was her Sunday best.

-Tina Trivett

Sunday, December 4

Sunday morning...

A Sunday sunrise across the fields...

It was gone in just a few minutes, but so beautiful, I wanted to share.

How does that saying go?
"Red sky at morning, sailor take warning, red sky at night, sailor's delight."

The saying was wrong today...this was a delight.

Friday, December 2

simple joys for December...

...be an elf! Surprise friends & neighbors with home-baked goodies, tie a wreath to your car bumper,
sing songs (who cares if we're off key?!), hang mistletoe, laugh, dance, take photos, make it the best time
of the year!

...settle in each night to read favorite Christmas books. Share the stories you loved hearing as a child.

...cozy up and watch classic holiday movies, pop popcorn, and make hot cocoa. You'll be making sweet memories that will last a lifetime.

...take a walk around your hometown and look in the shop windows and enjoy the twinkling lights on the
town square.

...get a live tree this year, or hang evergreen wreaths and swags around your home. There's nothing like the scent of fresh-cut greenery.

....sip eggnog and stir up some "real" hot cocoa (topped with whipped cream, of course!)

...light a fire in the fireplace to warm your toes.

...play Christmas music (it's okay, it's December now!) Pull our your favorites, then add some old classics to the mix like Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como. Oldies, yes...but goodies for sure.

...build a snowman or snowgirl...why not a whole snow family?!

...don't forget your animals at Christmas. Bake up some dog or cat treats, share crisp apple slices with horses, carrots for rabbits, and hang a wreath on the chicken coop!

...shovel snow for an elderly neighbor.

...read the Christmas story to your children (or grandchildren), hold hands, say a prayer, and make a Christmas wish. Take time to reflect on your blessings and slow down to enjoy the spirit of the season.

Wednesday, November 30

handy, dandy egg-carrier...

Last week I visited a favorite small shop to pick up some fabric...well, I can never get in and out of this shop quickly! It's filled with beautiful painted furniture, yellowware dishes, old-fashioned lighting, and just about anything else a gal who loves primitive-country would enjoy. I could actually move into this shop and live there...it's just my style!

Anyway, as I purchased my fabric, I spied this on a shelf...

an old-style egg carrier. Oh yes...it was coming home! It's just right for toting eggs (one from each of the girls)
from the coop to the kitchen...I couldn't resist. It now sits in our kitchen next to a vintage egg scale and a
very old wire egg basket.

Don't you just love it when you stumble upon something that seems made for you? I know I do!

Monday, November 28

creamy mushroom soup...

I love mushrooms...on pizza, stuffed, and especially the morels to be found each spring. Those we batter-dip and fry...not exactly calorie-free, but a delicious, once-a-year treat I remember from my childhood.

And so with today's rain and chilly wind, I felt some homemade soup should be on the menu. Sometimes I just want something a bit different from our usual chili or vegetable soup, so I began looking through my old cookbooks. Soon I came across a recipe I hadn't made in years...I did a little recipe tweaking, put on my apron, in no time I was whipping up a pot of creamy soup.

(oh, by the way; mushrooms do not photograph well...at least for me!)

Creamy Mushroom Soup

1 c. butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 qt. chicken broth
16-oz. pkg. sliced mushrooms
1 qt. half & half
1 t. salt
1/4 t. white pepper

Melt butter in a stock pot over medium heat; add flour. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add mushrooms, half & half, salt and pepper. Cook on low, but do not boil, until mushrooms are heated through. Makes 8 servings.

And yes, there's veggie soup simmering away on the stove as well...not everyone loves mushrooms like I do!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 23

giving thanks...

courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

I'm up early here at the farmhouse, thinking about Thanksgiving and what needs to be done before tomorrow. While we'll be traveling "Over the river and through the woods" and making most of the meal at Grammy's,
I'm making the mashed potatoes ahead of time so they're a quick re-heat before dinner.

For years we've made what my aunt called Kingston Potatoes  (no one is sure where the name Kingston originated), or make-ahead mashed potatoes. They are oh-so easy, and so delicious, I thought I'd share the recipe... just in case you're in charge of bringing the potatoes this year!

Kingston Potatoes
8 to 10 potatoes, peeled and diced
8-oz. pkg. cream cheese
3 T. butter
1 c. sour cream
salt & white pepper to taste

Add potatoes to a stock pot; cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain water; place potatoes in a large bowl. While potatoes are hot, stir in cream cheese and butter. Once well blended, stir in sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon potatoes into a lightly oiled 2-quart casserole dish; cover and refrigerate one to 2 days.

When ready to prepare potatoes, place casserole dish in a 350-degree oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes,
or until heated through. Serves 6 to 8 (maybe...these go quickly!)

Planning Thanksgiving is certainly a country pleasure. And yes, while all the cooking and baking are quite an undertaking, it's also comforting to enjoy the handed-down, tried & true family recipes that seem to only be enjoyed on this holiday. Everyone looks forward to oyster stuffing and homemade noodles...oh, how the aromas will fill the house! Until the big dinner, the kids will play games, watch movies, and if the weather's dry, we'll walk down to the little historic village that's close by. With an old school house, cabins, blacksmith shop, caboose, and train depot to explore, there's plenty to keep kids busy while the turkey is roasting.

During these brisk days of November, we are thankful for so much. The day brings to mind the words of an old hymn that read, "all are safely gathered in, e're the winter storms begin."

Wherever you are across the miles, we're sending you good wishes for a happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22

how many eggs?

As the days grow shorter, we've been collecting fewer eggs...some days 6, some days only 4. Which is why we were so surprised a couple of days ago.

Little Man went out to visit the girls and collect the eggs. He called from the coop, "There are 13 eggs!"
Sweet Girl gave me a puzzled look, shook her head, then dashed to the coop just to make sure her brother had counted correctly. Why yes, he had.

How is this possible?! We gathered all the eggs the day before...it was late afternoon, and 4 were in the nest boxes. Let's do the math...even if the other 2 gals had decided to gift us with an egg each, the next day the most we would have counted would have been 8.

Our nearest neighbor just turned 76 years old...not the sort to sneak to the coop under the cover of darkness, add eggs, then dash back home for a good chuckle. Our other neighbors just aren't close to our home.

Of course anything is possible...however; I'm keeping my eyes open for a golden egg next!

the evidence...

Friday, November 18

my, oh my, pumpkin pie...sugar scrub!

Sugar scrubs have become my go-to for quick & easy family & friend gifts. With so many fragrances available, the options really seem endless. So today I've been tinkering (and avoiding other work that definitely needs doing!) with "recipes" and this pumpkin pie version seems just right for Thanksgiving.

So, if you're looking for a hostess gift to take along to Mom's or Grandma's next week, you may want to give her a jar of Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub. It's ready in a jiffy, but don't tell anyone...they'll think it took you
all afternoon! (On second thought, go ahead and tell...it would be fun for the girls to make several batches
while the boys are watching football!)

Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub

1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar, packed
2 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. plus 1/2 T. sunflower oil*

Whisk together sugars, pie spice, and cinnamon. Add oil; stir to blend. Spoon into jars for gift giving. Makes about 2 cups.

*You can certainly use any oil you have on hand; however, I like sunflower oil because it doesn't have the strong aroma that so many other oils have.

I hope you enjoy this...I'm off to tinker with a candy cane scrub next. After all, the holidays will be here soon!
I'm also linking up to Verde Farm for their Farm Friend Friday...drop in for a visit, it's always lots of fun!

Thursday, November 10

a beautiful full moon...

The kids are off today and we're spending time with Grandma this morning, so I was up bright & early.
I'm glad I was, or I might have missed this beautiful moon as it began to sink into the west about 6:30 a.m.

The forecast is for a bit of snow tomorrow...yikes! That has us getting into high speed to wrap up outdoor chores. Last Saturday was spent cleaning the coop from top to bottom, and am I ever glad we covered the floor with vinyl flooring. Once it was swept and dusted out, mopping made the floor look almost new again.
Ahhh, yes, happy hens indeed.

This weekend has us clearing a spot for a wood pile and putting the garden to bed. Sweet Girl has a roller skating birthday party with friends, so it will be a good Saturday.

It's a lovely time of year...the season's first fire in the fireplace, snuggling under cozy quilts, the crunch of leaves underfoot. Hope you're enjoying every minute.

"Summer's loss seems little, dear, on days like these."
-Ernest Dowson

Monday, November 7

unexpected surprises...

Each day I have the opportunity to lend a hand in Little Man's class. His teacher is just terrific and it's a joy to help out with the kids in her classroom.

Really, it's so much fun, not work at all (perhaps I should have been a teacher??), which is all the more reason I was so touched when I received this thank you gift from his teacher last week.

"Just a little something for you to enjoy over Thanksgiving," she said.

What a sweet lady...what a heartfelt gesture.

And so, I thought I'd share her kindness with you. If someone has been on your mind...a neighbor, friend, or someone who needs a bit of cheering up, why not make a centerpiece for them to enjoy over Thanksgiving?
Simply set a pillar candle in the center of a glass cylinder, surround it with a mixture of nuts and cranberries, and ta-da, you're done! Don't have a cylinder...use a smaller pillar candle tucked inside quart-size Mason jar.

I promise, not only will you feel good because you brightened someone's day, you're absolutely going to touch their heart and make them smile!

Wednesday, November 2

simple joys for November...

...create a fall wreath for your door, they're so easy and will be the perfect harvest welcome for family & friends. Simply cut a circle or square from cardboard to make a base, then cut a circle or square out of the center. Using tacky glue, cover the cardboard with colorful leaves from your own yard. Top the leaves with nuts & bittersweet berries, or mini Indian corn; glue in place. Set aside until the glue has dried, then slip a length of ribbon through the center and tie into a long loop for hanging.

...take time to write in your journal (Don't have one you say? Then it's time you did!). Make notes and jot down thoughts of all the things in your life you are grateful for. This is the time of year to slow down, take the days a bit slower, and really enjoy all of the blessings in our lives.

...make pine cone turkeys for your Thanksgiving table. Come on...you remember them, and the kids will giggle with delight as they help you create a whole flock!

...watch the Thanksgiving Day parades in your jammies. Parades are still as much fun to watch as they were when you were a kid!

...if you haven't done so yet, it's time (at least here in the Midwest!) to pull your flannel sheets out of the linen closet and lay an extra quilt at the foot of each bed. There's nothing like curling up under these cozy sheets on a frosty night. Although, I admit, it is difficult to get out of that cozy bed each morning!

...make a fire in the fireplace and settle into a cozy spot with a favorite book. If you don't have a fireplace, light candles to create that cozy glow. Enjoy the season you are in.

...don't rush out to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, make it a day to relax...put on some Christmas music, set a pot of soup to simmer on the stove, jot down gift ideas, and really enjoy the beginning of the holiday season.

Monday, October 31

autumn hearthstring...

A friend of my recently told me she'd discovered oodles of chestnuts, and asked if I had any ideas that would put them to use. Well, she was thinking of good, old-fashioned "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..."
while my thoughts immediately went to "hearthstring!"

A hearthstring is a simple, easy-to-make decoration to hang above your hearth, or along the tops of doorways, windows, or even on cupboards. Ours go up in September and stay in place right through Thanksgiving. Wrapped in tissue paper, and stored in a dry place, they'll last for years.

There's no "right" way to make a hearthstring...just use your imagination and whatever you happen to have on hand.  My hearthstring has dried field corn (sliced, with a hole drilled in the center), bay leaves, dried fruit slices, and sweetgum pods. Leftover fabric squares are quickly stitched together, plumped up with some batting, and tied with a raffia bow, and then everything is threaded onto a length twine. Some extra raffia tied onto the ends dresses it up a bit, and it's done!

This is an oh-so simple decoration to whip up on a rainy day when getting outside isn't much fun. You really can make several of these in no time at all, and they're so easy, the kids can lend a hand too.

Let me know if you try making one...I'd love to see your ideas!

I'm linking up to the Homestead Barn Hop today...take a minute to visit there,
you'll discover some terrific farms!

Friday, October 28

some snapshots...

The flu bug (or blue bug, as Little Man calls it) has descended upon us, and for the last two weeks we've experienced most of the ups & downs that come with it. A little R&R is good at times like these,
and I'm even more grateful for cozy quilts, fluffy pillows, good books, and a purring cat (who, by the way, likes to sleep on us!) These, along with daily hugs & kisses, have been the best medicine of all.

The month is flying by, so I wanted to take a minute to post a handful of pictures of October around our farm.

a late-blooming clematis
for my "someday" bees!
just for fun
limelight hydrangea
corn still waiting to be harvested
maple leaves in the afternoon sun
today's foggy morning
a Sunday sunset

When the heat of summer's over
and the coolin' fall is here,
Of course we miss the flowers, 
and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin' birds 
and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin',
and the landscape through the haze,
of a crisp and sunny morning of the airy autumn days...
when the frost is on the pumpkin and the fodder's in the shock.

-James Whitcomb Riley

Monday, October 17

the season's last county fair...

October has been glorious the last few days, and so our family enjoyed a day at the county fair.
Come along, I'll take you on a little tour!

We had to linger around the old tractors. There wasn't a 4020 in sight...but this will do
(Santa, are you reading?)

We saw prize-winning pumpkins of all shapes and sizes...

huge watermelons...

stacks of crisp, crunchy apples...

and of course, yummy food!

Old-fashioned buntings were displayed everywhere. That's just something I like about county fairs...
flags are proudly flying and folks are friendly. It's one of the joys of small towns...so many nice people.

After sampling the food, and seeing all the 4-H displays, it was time to visit the animals. I didn't take my camera into the animal barns...and now wish I had. While all the animals are such fun to see, when we walked into the sheep barn, I had to stop and stay at the pen of the sweetest little Suffolk sheep. 

Let me tell you, if I could have bought him on the spot and sneaked him back home I would have.
While some sheep let us  pet them, others were a little more distant, however; this fella in particular put his head in my hand while I scratched his chin. He closed his eyes, and I'm pretty sure a smile was creeping across his adorable little face.

The only thing that pulled me away from him was the fact that I was losing sight of my family. Little Man came back to find me...call me silly, but I had to wipe the tears out of my eyes.

Ah yes, this is the vision I want to see out my back door...

photo from:
USSA - United Suffolk Sheep Association
And so another county fair wraps up...they're always fun for our family, and something we look forward to each & every year. 

So, how are you spending these crisp, blue-skied days of autumn?

Happy Monday friends!

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