Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Wednesday, December 31

New Year's resolutions...

Time flies...I can't believe it's the end of another year! 

And being the obsessed list-maker that I am, yep...there are resolutions being jotted down.

I ran across this quote today...and it was just what I needed.

Thomas S Monson Laundry Cleaning Clothes Room Mom LDS Mormon Kid Vinyl Lettering Quote Wall Decal Art Sticker Graphic Decor Decoration LA09
source: here

Ahhh, yes...loads of laundry, oodles of Legos, piles of paperwork, teetering stacks of books, boxes of board games...you know the drill. 

Over the years I've visited homes that looked as if they came from the pages of a magazine...sheer perfection. I often come home, let out a big sigh, and dive into some chocolate. However; not long ago, a friend brought the reality of it all to me...those homes have children that are grown and on their own or in college...toys have been packed away, games stored in the closet, laundry for two.

And while I certainly need to be better at my home-keeping skills (dust bunnies, anyone?), my resolution for 2015 is to not let the Legos and laundry get me down. Little Man (can I still call him that?) is in his last year of elementary school. The last year for school parties, classroom birthday celebrations, and playgrounds with swings and monkey bars. Sweet Girl will enter high school next fall...how is that possible?

As the saying goes...Time flies - whether you're having fun or not.

Welcome 2015! Time for more fun, less fuss! 

And so (as I step over Legos) it's time to celebrate New Year's Eve here on the farm ~ time for snacks, games, and our annual camp-out under the Christmas tree! When the clock strikes midnight, you'll find us outside banging pots & pans, like we always do, welcoming in the shiny new year.

Wishing you a new year filled with happiness and FUN!

Wednesday, December 24

Merry Christmas!

Let us share the warmth and love in our hearts during this special time,
and remember that the finest gifts and greatest joys, come from the heart.

Sending wishes from our family to yours, for a wonderful Christmas filled with
the blessings of the season.

Monday, November 24

polar vortex-nado?

Yep, that's actually what I heard a week ago when we woke up to this...

a snowstorm that brought the first day off from school!
You know the drill...

movie marathon
homemade cocoa
jammies all day...ahhh, this is the life.

And quite honestly, I'm pretty tickled to see the summer chores put to rest for a few months.

Let it snow!

Saturday, November 15

clay pot home-baked bread...yum!

I love homemade bread...I could make a meal of it (come to think of it, I probably have!)

the heavenly aroma while it's baking...
cutting that first, still warm slice...
spreading on real butter...or spoonfuls of homemade jam or apple butter.

Yes, James Beard was right when he said;

"“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods;
and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”

And so, for some unknown reason, I pulled out a clay baker we received as a wedding present...ages ago.  I truly think I used it only a couple times, then tucked it away in the back of the cupboard.

I began thinking...would it be useful for baking bread? I pulled it out, dusted it off, and began looking for bread recipes. In no time at all, this was the result...

It was terrific! The recipe was oh-so simple, the crust baked up crispy and golden, the inside was soft...just waiting for a pat of butter!

Ta-da...new life given to an old wedding present. Now how often does that happen?
Hmmm, and now I'm wondering just what else can I prepare in it!

This bread recipe is a keeper if you happen to have a clay baker...and if not, you just may want to consider getting one! Here's a link filled with lots of tips and how-to's...like the importance of soaking the clay pot in water before baking.  Romertopf calls it The Perfect Loaf, and I couldn't agree more.

The Perfect Loaf

1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 package active dry yeast ( 2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 TBL. salt
1 TBL. vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour (approximately) 
Stir warm water, yeast and sugar in large mixer bowl.  
Let stand 5-10 minutes or until foamy.  Add 2 cups flour, salt, and oil.  With mixer fitted with dough hook, mix on low until blended, then mix on medium speed for 5 minutes until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed. 
Knead about 15-20 minutes until dough is smooth and springy and small bubbles form just under the surface. Place dough in greased bowl, turn to coat top.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Soak bottom of Romertopf Clay Baker 111 in water for about 20 minutes.  Drain and pat dry.  Generously grease sides and bottom of clay baker.
When dough has doubled, punch down and shape into a loaf, place in clay baker. Let stand, covered with plastic wrap or wax paper, for 30-45 minutes or until dough nearly reaches the top of the cooker.
Soak top of clay baker for 15 minutes while dough rises the second time.  When dough has risen, use a sharp razor blade or knife to cut 2-3 diagonal slashes across the top of dough (about 1/2" deep).  Drain lid of baker, pat dry and grease.  Place covered clay baker in cold oven, set oven temperature to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and bake 45 minutes.  Remove lid and continue to bake until top is brown, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
*adapted from Clay Cookery by The Editors of Consumer Guide

Saturday, November 8

a newspaper Christmas tree?

Now, I'm an old-fashioned gal when it comes to Christmas decorating.  I love the fragrance of a real fir tree, the sentimental way handed-down ornaments bring back sweet memories, and the primitive look of cranberry garlands.

I will wade through the snow and wander back and forth in an effort to find the "perfect tree" (which usually ends up being the first one we looked at...you know, the one way down at the bottom of the hill...the one my husband is "guarding" until I come to realize what he already knows.)

However; as I was leaving our local craft supply store, this tree caught my eye...

How clever!

It's made of rolled newspaper that's been tucked into a cone of chicken wire, then given a bit of color with a spritz of spray paint, and finished off with glittering poinsettias tucked here and there...wow!

Thanks to those creative folks at Pat Catan's for their inspiration!

Okay, who's up for a weekend project?!

Tuesday, October 28

barn sales - gotta love 'em!

I was lucky enough to visit a terrific barn sale a few weeks ago - it was overflowing with the most clever, creative, amazing things! From vintage to primitive to shabby chic...

since I couldn't take you along, I just had to share a few snapshots!

Ooo-la-la lights in the barn!


I WILL be making one of these lights...how clever!


That last photo...words to LIVE by!
So...what October joys are to be found where you are?

Saturday, October 4

Tuesday, September 23

"the worst winter ever"?

Yep...that's what the old-timers are saying...the worst winter ever is coming.
Last winter, we saw the temperature plummet to -29. 

MINUS. Twenty. Nine.

Could it really get worse?

This is the Mid-west...it should be cold in winter. When the snow falls, I conjure up old-fashioned visions of sleigh rides, frosty snowmen with carrot noses, days off from school spent enjoying movie marathons, buttery popcorn, and mugs of chocolaty cocoa by a crackling fire. Ahhh...

However, the signs are there...

Azreal, our cat, is putting on a heavy coat...and a few extra pounds.
The bees have sealed the hives so tightly, it's been hard to open them to look inside.
Twice this month we've found the temperature to be 36 degrees as we stepped outside.  Brrr.

And so, keeping in mind that the old-timers really do know best, weekends have found The
Big Guy and Little Man insulating the chicken coop to be sure the girls will be cozy. Next on our to-do list we'll be adding to the barn to keep the goats even warmer...today I ordered more hay. Over the weekend I took off the last of the honey from our hives, and soon we'll be tucking them in for a long winter's nap.

However, with all that said, let's enjoy the season we are in! It's officially Fall..my favorite time of year, and so, join us as we take a walk around the farm.


Wherever you are, happy Fall friends!

Thursday, September 4

losing a friend...

When we arrived at our first home, as young twenty-somethings, we found our church's Boy Scout Troop ready to help us unload the moving truck. They were a welcome sight indeed! We were now in a new town, and as time passed, we found ourselves becoming familiar with our way around, and slowly beginning to make new friends.

Soon, the parents of two of those helpful Scouts become good friends. We found we had much in common, laughed at the same things, and attended the same church. Their friendship was dear...a hand-stitched quilt was made for the arrival of our Sweet Girl, and then later, a beautiful hand-sewn baptism dress, complete with ruffles and lace, was made for baptism day. When our Little Man came along, they gave him his first pair of jeans...just what every little farm-boy needs!

As time passed, we watched their children grow to become wonderful examples of righteous young men and women, who serve with all their hearts. It's been heart-warming to see them grow, marry, and begin families of their own.

When a change of jobs meant a move for our good friends, our hearts were heavy...to know that distance makes keeping close difficult. But we did keep in touch...we traveled to weddings, and they returned for baptisms and visits to catch up.

It was with great sadness when Margaret shared with us she was diagnosed with cancer. And while enduring the side-effects that came with treatments, she was remarkably consistent in the cycles that led her through the months and seasons. Pictures showed her celebrating the births of grandchildren, holidays spent with loved ones, and vacations to visit family far away. Her love for those dear to her and making every moment count never waned.

The sad news come in an email from her husband...there is an emptiness.

Margaret was the chorister in our church, and before they moved, she led the congregation in singing God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again as the closing hymn...

click here for a beautiful rendition by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Until we meet again...

Thursday, July 10

farmgirl photos...

Time flies, as they say...
whether you're having fun, or not.

So we've made it our mission to have as much fun as possible this summer.

Movie marathons, hometown fireworks (wearing sweatshirts and cozied up under blankets too, I might add!), splashing in the pool, Cub Scout camp, sleeping in, chasing fireflies, goat races, and mowing, mowing, mowing...although I'm pretty sure hubby doesn't count that as "fun"!

The weather has been crazy, from evenings cold enough to have a bonfire & toast s'mores, to endless rain, then blazing heat.

So many things make up summertime on the farm...here are few of my favorite snapshots of what's happening in our little corner of the world, Midwest, USA.

poppies in bloom...

a bee enjoying some lunch...
look at those eyes...
summer also brought bee swarms...2 in 10 days!
sweet baby llamas...
To quote Jack Lemmon from, The Great Race,
"We're under water!"
No, there is not normally a pond in the middle of the cornfield!
the annual balloon festival...great fun!
well-worn cowgirl boots!

And so it goes...
hope summer is happy in your corner of the world!

Friday, June 20

Thanks to the good folks at Capper's Farmer!

A heart-felt "thank you!" to the staff at Capper's Farmer magazine...

for printing my article in their Summer issue...


I'm thrilled to again be a part of their magazine! Every issue is filled to the brim with terrific articles, recipes, and how-to advice for homesteaders, farmers, or wannabe farmers
(that includes us farm-girls too).  

Thanks Capper’s!


Wednesday, May 14

the wonderful world of cast iron!

Cast-iron cookware ... even cooking, hard-working, and when properly taken care of, it will last a lifetime. What more can we ask?

In our kitchen we have several sizes of skillets, a traditional Dutch oven, and two Dutch ovens with legs for outdoor cooking. They're always in use for soups, chili, roasts, and even baking bread. And come July, when we celebrate Pioneer Day, there's sure to be a tripod over the campfire ... and in the air, the heavenly aroma of savory pot roast. Off to the side, nestled in the glowing coals, will be a couple more ovens, one baking bread, another filled with a
sweet dessert. 

Those outdoor meals taste so wonderful, I almost forget I'm cooking over a campfire in the heat and humidity that is July in the Midwest! And if I'm getting into the spirit wearing full pioneer clothing, (long dress, apron & bonnet) forgetting the summertime temperature is a blessing!

Cast iron is so easy to take care of, that a few simple steps will keep the surfaces rust-free and non-stick.

If you're fortunate to have seasoned cookware that's been handed down and is in terrific shape, all you need to do is hand wash, immediately dry, and then rub on a light coat of vegetable oil. Add enough oil so that the cookware has a sheen, but isn't sticky or overly oily. Use a paper towel to remove any excess oil before you store the cookware.

If your cast iron hasn't been used recently, and has a bit of rust, that's easily taken care of. Wash the cookware in hot soapy water, then use a stiff brush to remove any rust. Rinse well and dry thoroughly. Rub the inside and outside with a thin coating of melted shortening, or vegetable oil. Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom rack of your oven, then heat the oven to 400 F. When the oven is hot, place the cookware upside-down on the top rack ... the foil will catch any drips of shortening or oil.

Set the timer for one hour. Then, after an hour, turn the oven off, leaving the cookware inside to cool as the oven cools down. Once the cast iron has been removed from the oven, simply wipe off any excess oil before storing it.

Oh-so easy ... you'll wonder why you waited so long!

And if you're really lucky, you'll find a gem like this cast-iron stove which belongs to our neighbors, Tom and Susie. This stove has an amazing story, and has come full circle.

What's so amazing? Well, the stove came up for auction, and our neighbors were lucky enough to give it a new home. And while that's not so unusual, what is wonderful is it's the very stove that was in the home Tom grew up in.

He has delightful stories remembered from childhood ... what a treasure!

Thursday, May 1

happy May Day!

"The merriest month of the year arrives bringing with it sunshine,
birds singing, apple blossoms, budding lilacs, and longer days to enjoy life
as spring's promise is finally fulfilled.

...the delights of a pretty garden, the relaxing comforts of lemonade and cookies on the front porch after school. We seem to laugh more..."

-Sarah Ban Breathnach

Friday, April 18

spring...celebrate the bounty

 April in the country...the old lilac bush at the edge of the yard is beginning to bud, the grass is greening, the bees can be heard buzzing, and the sky is a heavenly sapphire blue.  And while, far off in the distance, we may see the hint of a spring shower to come, right now, it is time to open our hearts to the promise of another season.

The winter has been long and harsh...and Saturday we attempted to put away most of the memories of that season. Bales of straw that had been blocking Old Man Winter's fierce storms were moved away from the chicken coop and beehive, heated waterers were stored, and fallen limbs gathered. We wrangled goats for a spring hoof-trimming (that's a story in itself!) and it was good to feel spring racing at full tilt.

We admired, and were grateful for, daffodils in bloom, the sight of bees returning to the hive heavy with pollen, and the sounds and fragrances of spring as chores were done.  To ward off a slight evening chill, we lit a bonfire and enjoyed s'mores. And as the day ended, we felt April in the country had rewarded us...the signs of a changing season are here.

Should I mention we woke up to snow two days later? 
Ah yes...life continues in all its richness.

Happy Easter to all!

Thursday, April 10

Charlie Brownies...yum!

At last...

the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the bees are buzzing! 
Even though there's still a strong breeze from the north (quite chilly at times) it's beginning to look a lot like spring!

I see little patches of green grass, daffodils are beginning to push their way up through the earth, and the girls are laying eggs. I will not recall that only 12 days ago we had another snowstorm.

All-in-all it's pretty delightful...

except for the spring cleaning part. All that sunshine certainly brings to light the cobwebs and dust-bunnies. And just how I'll ever get through the teetering stacks of papers and clothes/boots/shoes that seem to collect over winter is beyond me.

However, I'm determined!

Little Man was heard to say..."You say that every year."

Ouch...and so, (she firmly says, still determined!) it is always a good idea to call before dropping by. 

At least let me take off my apron, tuck the broom and dust-mop away, and "hide" a few things in the closet.  (I am I the only one who feels this?!)

You will NOT find this... 

source: here

And while more realistic, this too, is a stretch...

source: here

And so, even on a day filled with whirlwind cleaning, a treat is necessary.
Here's one of our kids' most-est, favorit-est goodies ever...hope you enjoy it, too!

Charlie Brownies

2/3 c. butter
1 lb. brown sugar
2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2-1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 T. water
1 t. vanilla extract
12-oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt butter; stir in sugar. Blend well, then let cool 10 minutes. Sift together next 3 ingredients; set aside. Beat eggs into brown sugar mixture; add water and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, add chocolate chips.

Spread in a well-oiled 15x9 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, cut into squares while still warm. Makes approx. 4 doz.

Wednesday, March 26

is it winter break or spring break?

Mother Nature is at it again...
she insists on playing tricks, as if she has no idea it's officially spring. 

And while this was the lovely sunset we enjoyed at day's end...

this was how it looked throughout the day. The snow began falling softly at first...it was oh-so pretty. You know the kind of snow...it drifts down gently bringing sweet dreams of a day spent in front of a crackling fire with a good book. Then, I watched it begin falling harder, bringing a chilly wind along to keep it company.


And yet, windy as it was, nothing kept our faithful guard dog from seeing what was going on. Truly, I think even she was stunned by this sudden snowfall.

The chickens were nowhere to be seen. I felt sorry for them as the snow continued to blow straight up the ramp and into the coop. Glad I hadn't packed away my Carhartt coat just yet,
I slipped it on, tossed the girls a little scratch, and tucked them in early...I think they were grateful.

And so it goes...

Soon, I'll be grumbling about the heat & humidity and will wish for these days. (Secretly, I'll take a few more like this...I know, I know, let the tomato-throwing begin! But my best-laid plans for spring cleaning are falling more than a bit behind, and I could desperately use more time! )

So what's my thought for the day?

Tuesday, March 11

again...good things come in 3's

Back in October, I posted here about good things coming in 3's.

And so this week, it's been fun to rediscover that good things continue to come in 3's.

1 ~ two new hens have joined our little flock. A friend decided that chicken-keeping wasn't for her right now, and so she shared with us Cookie, a pretty Barred Rock; and Nilla, a sweet Golden Buff Orpington. We're still undecided about whether or not to keep their names...and I laughed out loud, and heartily agreed, when our son suggested Lucy and Ethel!

2 ~ after months of snow, ice, sleet, freezing rain, and below zero temperatures, it was a delight to see the sun shining and a find it was a balmy 68-degrees today!

Do I even want to do the math? That's 94 degrees warmer than our coldest day 5 weeks ago. Yes, that's a good thing!

3 ~ and last, but not least, a package arrived from Courtney, at Eggcellent Life... she creates the prettiest egg carton labels! I was fortunate to be chosen in a giveaway at Tilly's Nest, and these terrific labels were tucked inside our mailbox. 

I can't wait to dress-up our egg cartons with these...thanks so much, Courtney!

Ahhh...it's been a good week.

Sunday, March 2

thought for the day...

I came across this lovely print a few weeks ago...

it can be found here...
while the complete scripture is...1 Thessalonians 4:11

And so, I think I will focus more on living this direction.

I'm sure the pace of life will continue to be full,
but there's no need for it to be frenetic.

...yes, a quiet life seems just right on this snowy Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, February 20

farmgirl photo...

Lately, naptime has found Tinker Bell curled up in the hay racks, and she's most content to spend the day there.

That is, until the goats decide it's time for a snack.

Too bad there aren't sprinting contests for cats ... she's one fast feline!

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