Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Thursday, December 29

Happy New Year!

Time to ring out the old and ring in the new!

Wishing you the happiest new year filled with good health, family & friends...let's resolve to find the joy in each of the days ahead!

Saturday, December 24

Monday, December 19

readying for Christmas...

The scent of gingerbread and balsam, the excitement of secret surprises, and visits with friends are all part of the joy of the holiday season. 

December is a month of activity...

Our daughter's performance in The Nutcracker ballet has just wrapped up...

As have orchestra and band concerts...

Now, while we count down to Christmas, let's take time to slow down and gather together. Soon we will be standing at the start of a new year, ready for renewal and hope.

But for now, let's remember the simple pleasures...hanging stockings, walking around the town square, reading by a crackling fire, and watching our favorite old movies.

Ready for Christmas?


Thursday, December 8

keeping it simple...

There's a cold wind whistling around the old farmhouse today, crows are feeding in the field to the east, and birds are flocking around the vintage bird feeder. Mornings start early here with the alarm going off at 4:30 a.m.. However; stepping outside today, there's no feeling of drowsiness...we feel very much awake with heads bowed down against the icy blast of December air. Errands are done quickly...chickens have a breakfast of warm mash, goats get extra hay and apple slices, barn cats and our faithful guard dog get goodies as well...Christmas cheer for all!

So the holiday season is here, and I feel more determined than ever to enjoy the simple country pleasures of getting ready for Christmas.   

Outside decorations are old-fashioned...

Nothing blinking, nothing bold...

No glimmer or glitz..

 Time for simple pleasures...

I've always loved old-fashioned ways, yet sometimes it's hard to embrace them in our fast & furious world, but I'm not giving up. It's time for simple swags of evergreens and berries, homemade marshmallows floating in mugs of chocolaty cocoa, crackling fires, home-baked cookies, and secret surprises. Traditions and gifts from the heart will take the chill out of any frosty winter wind.

Saturday we'll bundle up and head out looking for the "perfect" Christmas tree, going back and forth, like we always do, usually deciding the first one we saw was our favorite...you know, the one waaaay back at the beginning of our trek! That night we'll enjoy a get-together with friends.  
As it's been said, we're never to young or too old to store up memories...let's enjoy every minute this year, and keep the spirit of Christmas in our hearts.

Thursday, December 1

happy December!

It's that time of year...

Start today...this very minute, because the month will fly by!

-put up the tree early...play music, sing loudly...no one cares if we're off key!

-be an elf...deliver secret goodies to friends & neighbors, knock and then run!

-bake oodles of cookies, every shape, size, and kind...
tuck them in pretty bowls or baskets;
just right for teachers, school bus drivers, or the mailman
(or mail lady in our case...have I told you her name is Betsy Ross? How cute!)

-make snowmen and snow angels, and REAL hot chocolate!
-have a movie marathon (best if you stay in your jammies all day!)

-whip up home-baked dog and kitty treats and fill bird feeders to overflowing.

-sit by the fire, light candles, watch the snow fall, read, knit or crochet, dream...

-bundle up and walk around the town square to see the festive shop windows.

-invite  your best girlfriends over for lunch and catch-up on all the holiday plans.

-write holiday letters...real letters, handwritten in cursive!

Have fun, hold hands, laugh, make memories...

Be An Elf!

Wednesday, November 23

a time to give thanks...

These November days are worth enjoying to the fullest...shadows of flying geese, woodpiles and woodsmoke, the sweet busyness of country life. So much to be thankful for; here's a little walk around the farm to share some of the things I'm grateful for this season...

Catching a sunset at just the right moment...

Amazing spiderwebs in the grass...

A vintage hay wagon...I feel so lucky it came home with us (love those colors!) It was such fun to see the kids & their friends take it out for the first time.

Bittersweet tucked in my favorite color pail...

Handmade greetings...

to welcome the magic of fall.

A time of harvest, home, and hearts filled with sweet memories. Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours.

Sunday, November 6

life is short...learn to fiddle!

Yes, we all know time flies...somehow the days turn into weeks, the weeks to months, and the months to years. And although many years have passed (I'm not saying how many!) I've never lost my desire to learn to fiddle.

See this?

smaller image of violin

This is a violin made in 1890 - yes, 126 years ago. I love anything old, so when the chance came along to make this mine, I was oh-so tempted. But first, I had it looked over from top-to-bottom. It had already been given new strings and a new bridge, so I took it to someone who could play...ahhh, how he made it sing!

I was sold, and so it came home with me.  That was May, so it's been six months...and while it doesn't always "sing" for me, it's a step toward one of my dreams. I'm polishing up old tunes such Amazing Grace, Red River Valley, Old Joe Clark, Come, Come Ye Saints, Lead Kindly Light, and Ashokan Farewell. 

Yes, most days when I play I still hear the dreaded squeaks and squawks from either too much or too little bow pressure. But some days, when I have the pressure just right, it does "sing." That just makes me want to learn more! I'm practicing daily and looking forward to a "jam session" with a young friend who loves the fiddle as much as I do.

And so today's post is short and sweet...time does fly, so do what you love, you're never too old to learn something new!

Friday, October 21

October magic...

The weather is crisp and the colors glorious...it's a fine time for a fall picnic and a hike in the woods. It's October! And my affection for this month goes beyond simple preference. 

I love the russet, gold, and crimson leaves and the sight of tangled bittersweet.
I love the scent of woodsmoke from the season's first fire.
I love hayrides, barn dances, and carving a plump pumpkin.

The shortened days seem to quickly drift into evening shadows filled with an autumn chill. We find it's time to slip on a cozy sweater, prepare a pot of simmering stew, and lay an extra quilt at the foot of each bed.

Not long ago, the early summer days melted into even hotter ones, so I welcome fall...soon we'll be in the icy grip of winter, but I'm shrugging that thought off!

Ahh...days aglow with brilliant hues and nights illuminated by the harvest moon. Let's slow down and take time to savor the sights, sounds, and aromas that mark the changing of seasons.

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photo source

Tuesday, October 4

October ushers in the harvest...

October has come to the country and I am filled with autumn busyness! Ahhh, the days are finally cooler.  The passing summer has been extremely hot & humid in our part of the Midwest, and I admit, I'm not sorry to see it pass.  

Chores that were hard to accomplish in the muggy days of summer seem easier to tackle now. I'm washing quilts, sweeping porches, and shaking rugs.  On the to-do list is making grape jam, salsa, and pasta sauce, along with harvesting sweet potatoes. We'll clean out the chicken coop and compost bin, toss the contents into the garden, and put it to bed until spring.

Farmers' markets are still busy and filled with pumpkins, acorn and butternut squash, okra, cabbage, and gourds. And since Halloween isn't far away, it's time to bring home several plump pumpkins!

October is my favorite month...a time of full moons and richly colored mums, of cider and woodsmoke, glorious trees, and of crisp days and cool nights. I love the brisk weather, and the daytime light feels somehow different...it is clear and bright, signaling an end to summer.
To me, it's a month like no other!

It's said, "life is a series of memories"...with that in mind, let's take the time to recall happy ones shared, and make new ones along the way.

Thursday, September 22

so God made a farmer...

The harvest has begun...

as the combines bring in corn and bales of hay are stacked in the 90-degree heat, this came to mind...I hope you feel the spirit that comes from Paul Harvey's words.

Friday, September 16

farmgirl photos...

A quick trip around the farm for a look at some of the things that make me smile...happy Friday!

A scarecrone keeping the fruits & veggies safe...

The sprinkler watering our bee garden...I love these sprinklers, they are oh-so pretty, but really do the job!

Meet Vinnie...I LOVE big, yellow, cats! They always are sweet, easy-going, and friendly. This guy magically appeared this year, and while it took some time for him to trust us, now he follows us everywhere...he's a keeper!

A DIY hummingbird feeder...oh-so easy. Take one colorful bottle, a feeder stopper, a length of heavy wire, some colorful beads and there you go...done in no time!

Sunflowers...ahhh, need I say more?

At the end of the day, there's nothing like sleeping under a quilt that's been dried in the fresh air and sunshine...heaven.

Another big, yellow cat...this is Azrael (named after the cat in the Smurf movies!) Oh my...truly, the sweetest cat on the farm. He comes inside after the kids go to school, curls up and naps until lunchtime. 

Found this antique pedal grinding stone at an old store that's going out of business. I've always wanted one and it was half off...doing my happy dance! 

And so it goes...another week has flown by. Hope all is well...enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, August 24

family history and hollyhocks...

A short post on this cool summer morning to share a photo..

Matilda Robey...I discovered this old photo while working on my genealogy. I've always loved hollyhocks, and have them in my garden. When I looked at those stately hollyhocks in the background, I wondered if she loved them as well...a trait handed down through the generations of my family tree.:

My daughter and I help in our church's Family History Center twice a month,
and on our last visit, I found this photo had been added to our family tree.

Her name is Matilda, and as I gazed at the photo, I became lost wondering about her.
The dress (oh-so warm in summer) the pin (a gift or maybe handed down?)  & shawl
(surely handmade), the clapboard home behind her with the pretty window trim. 

And those stately hollyhocks..so beautiful. I wonder if she loved them as much as I do...a trait handed down through the generations, maybe?

Have you done any digging into your family tree? What treasures have you discovered? You may want to give it a try...there's so many wonderful stories and photos to bind the generations.

Friday, August 5

farmgirl photos...

As summer winds down (school begins in 2 weeks!) there's lots happening here on the farm. Just like everyone else, there's always much to do...for us, we're reworking the mudroom and half-bath, gardening, beekeeping, and catching up on odds & ends. Summer heat and humidity are relentless, with temperatures in the 90's each day. Unfortunately, there's no chance in sight of much-needed rain.

What cool can be found in the early morning, is spent watering the garden and flowers, and topping off buckets of water for the goats, chickens, barn cats, faithful guard dog, and even the honey bees. Throughout the day we make quick trips outside to be sure animals have fresh water and are doing well. And as for us, homemade ice cream is on the menu for this weekend!

And so it goes...it IS summer, and soon fall...my favorite time of year, will be here to enjoy. 
In the meantime, here's a peek at what we see each day...a little walk around the farm.

Happy Friday to all!

A sweet, elderly lady at the nursery suggested this heirloom variety, San Marzano.
Can't wait to try it in our favorite tomato sauce recipe.

Who doesn't love a volunteer sunflower?!

Plump blackberries are ready for picking - hint: plant the thornless variety! 

I can taste the peach cobbler now...yum! 

Limelight hydrangea add a pop of color to a shady spot.

It's hard to find a flower that can take the heat of full sun, all day long...but these zinnias have been fantastic.
I'll be saving the seeds for next year!


Monday, July 18

life is too short to be unhappy...

That's what my mother-in-law always says, and she's right...too short to spend time on things we don't enjoy, too short to rush through the days, too short waiting on "someday." 

Before we know it, the days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, and the months into years. Soon, a lifetime has passed by.

I recently read: "Someone else is praying for what you already have."
It made me stop...

healthy children - check
a home of our own - check
food in the pantry and veggies growing in the garden - check

There are also some extras we are blessed with...fireflies at dusk, favorite old movies, fresh eggs & honey, room to roam, critters to care for, and laughter.

Yes, some days are better than others, and we certainly have things on our wish list,
but all-in-all, isn't it really all about how we face each day?

How about this first day of the new week we take just a minute to look around...
what do we enjoy that someone else is praying for? Then, with gratitude in our hearts,
let's whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for those blessings.

Monday, June 27

upcycle, recycle, in no time flat!

I'm always drawn to old things...things that look like they just need a little love. Weathered signs, window frames, and vintage watering cans have all found their way home with me, but this time, a silver teapot - ahhh, yes, it looked like it had potential.

Not as teapot, for it had two broken legs, but as a windchime! Hmmm, out came the drill and filament line.

A hole here and there...
A hammer to flatten some old silverware, then a hole in each handle...



And before I knew it, done!

Now, it's not everyone's cup of tea...but when the wind blows and the silverware begins to "sing" in the breeze, I love it.

Yep...use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without...our grandmothers were right!

Thursday, June 2

May...merry & madcap!

For anyone with kids, you know that May is, yes, both merry and madcap! From band & orchestra concerts to award ceremonies & celebrations, it's full from beginning to end. That's not a bad thing, just a somewhat frenzied thing!

And so, in the middle of a fast-paced month, this arrives in my mailbox...

Yay! Perfect timing...our girls at church are prepping for Girls' Camp and the outdoor cooking certification will be here on the farm. This issue's packed with recipes from those early-morning breakfasts, to lunch, dinner & yummy desserts.

So, how to make this madcap month even better? Turn to page 82...

and I'm tickled to find my article on cast-iron! I'm always happy to be invited to write for GRIT magazine...they have some of the best how-to articles out there for homesteaders, farmgirls, and wannabe farmgirls. (And lucky for us, girl campers, too!)

Thanks to the good people at GRIT for this issue...we'll definitely use it for camp, but check back with us in July when we celebrate Pioneer Day, it'll be perfect!

(PS...someone asked me about the term "Kitchen Orchard" from my last post. It's an old homesteading term...generally it meant 5 trees close to the house for the homesteaders' use, not a full-size orchard meant for taking fruit to market.)

Monday, May 9

farm photos...our kitchen orchard

I thought you might like a peek at the first blooms of our Kitchen Orchard...this time of year is the prettiest time, with all the rose-like buds and soft colors.

Yellow Transparent Apple...just perfect for applesauce!

Fuji Apple...our favorite sweet/tart apple for eating.

Contender Peach...makes such tasty jam. And since I'm the only one who likes peaches,
they're all for me!

Next is the D'anjou pear tree...sweet and juicy.

Last, and oh-so cute, is the tiny Seckel Pear. Thought to be the only truly American pear, they're sometimes called a sugar pear or a candy pear because of their sweet taste.

Now as pretty as these blooms are, they are also tender. Should the temperatures dip, as they often do once the blooms come on, we'll be out there with our hoses spraying them with water.

I know, I know...that sounds crazy, but this little trick we have up our sleeves will actually save the buds, and future fruit when a threatening freeze is in the forecast. We will coat the tree with water, which will freeze. And while that sounds like it would damage the blooms, in the end, that layer of ice will protect the fruit that's developing. Why? Well science tells us that when water freezes, it produces energy in the form of heat, which will protect the buds from the bitter cold. 

Yep...it certainly does sound counter-productive, but we figured if it works for the orange growers in Florida, it just might work for us, too.

So we do this...

to enjoy this!

It's hard to wait!

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