welcome to our farmhouse…life is good

Wednesday, November 15

simple country pleasures...


Sparkling cold weather, sunrises tinted with rose and peach, orange-red bittersweet, and flocks of birds at the feeder...the days are exquisite and such a gift.  We enjoy every one, a blessed relief after the heat and humidity of a long summer. Even on a gray day with drizzly rain, November is the deepening of the year, and a quiet day spent reading and warming my toes by a crackling fire is a reason to give thanks.





This year, like so many of you, I've tried to slow down...to simplify...to make home a haven from the worries of the world. Not easy in an energy-charged life with teens...and yet, advice to
"...enjoy the season you are in." continues to ring in my mind.


Last year, on Christmas Eve day, I ran to the local convenience store...I don't remember why...tape, milk, bread, something I'd forgotten. And as I left, I noticed they had stocked the shelves with Valentine's Day candy. Sigh...






"Nature has its rhythms and its harmonies.
We would do well to fit ourselves as best we can 
with those cycles
rather than frantically throwing ourselves against them.
Be calm, be patient, be happy with the season you are in."
-Jeffrey R. Holland


And so, as we begin this holiday season, let's make every effort to truly ENJOY this time of year. When you find a minute, read this post by farmgirl Rebekah Teal...she absolutely made me stop in my tracks and take stock. 

Here's a little snippet of her wisdom, just to get you thinking...

News flash!

Christmas is not a competition...
Of how decorated your house is.
Of how perfectly perfect your gifts are.
Of how busy your days and nights are.
Of how much baking you do.
Of how many homemade gifts you can crank out.
Of how beautiful your family is (or appears to be).
Let's all. Just. STOP.


Wise words...make time to appreciate each day and the joy waiting to be discovered, be thankful for sweet memories, and look forward to a lovely future.

And NO Christmas music until next Friday!



Tuesday, October 31

merry Hallowe'en!



source:


Here's to plump pumpkins

and pint-size imposters...
cowboys & superheroes, 
pirates & princesses

Time to store up memories!

Friday, October 27

October magic...a joyously busy time.


October has ushered in the harvest season...and with that she has flung a brilliantly colored cloak across the fields, valleys, and woods. 

A week ago I decided it was time to put the garden to bed, and I spent the afternoon picking the last of the peppers (who this year have refused to stop sharing their bounty!) and removed spent plants, then tilled the garden under. Except for the row of peppers...I just couldn't! They still have blooms, and if the weather is just right, we may yet harvest more.  While I was working the sun was bright and hot, it felt like a summer's afternoon, but that night a chill set in, and yesterday morning we had our first heavy frost, waking up to a temperature of 24 degrees. Brrr.


























When October comes, I feel beset with busyness. It's such a happy time...the 
temperatures are cooler, the colors are glorious, and the nesting instinct has intensified. I can get more done without the humidity of summer, so I'm tackling chores as the days go by. Quilts are dancing on the clothesline, the porch has been swept and the rugs shaken.  It's also time to tuck the honeybees in for winter...this week the feeders need to come off, and soon the hives will be wrapped to keep them as safe and warm as possible. 

The last of the corn surrounding our farm has been harvested, and in the distance I can hear the corn dryers hard at work.




Wild bittersweet grows along a fence in a neighboring field, so I've come home with armfuls that have found spots both inside and out...mantels, cupboards, vintage buckets, and next to plump pumpkins are curly vines of dazzling orange berries that brighten the days.





It's my favorite month, in my favorite season. For me, a time like no other.

Sweet country life...simple country pleasures. October is the autumn idyll.


Wednesday, October 18

bread recipe you have to try!


Today's post is short & sweet...

You can whip up the start to a wonderful loaf of homemade bread in about 5 minutes...

This recipe (thank you for sharing the original!) is oh-so simple and wonderful! And in 8 hours (yes 8 hours...but we all have enough to keep us busy, so time will fly!) you'll be enjoying warm, butter-topped slices of this:



I won't spend any more time telling you how easy this is to make, or how your family & friends will think you picked it up at an artisan bakery, or how you will BEAM with pride when you serve it. What are you waiting for? Let's get going!

Ingredients:


3 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. salt
1 t. active dry yeast
1-1/2 c. water (110 to 115 degrees)

Whisk together the first three ingredients; add water and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; set aside 8 hours.


When ready to bake, heat oven to 450 degrees, place a 6-quart Dutch oven, covered, into oven and set timer for 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, remove plastic wrap from dough, gently punch down and turn dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Flour hands and shape dough into a ball; sprinkle top lightly with flour. Set aside while Dutch oven is heating...30 minutes.


Remove Dutch oven from oven, and using parchment, lift dough and place it, keeping parchment underneath, into the Dutch oven. Cover Dutch oven and bake 45 minutes; remove lid and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.  Remove from oven, lift loaf from Dutch oven and place on a rack to cool.


I'm not going to tell you to wait until it's cool to slice it...that would be silly. Wait until it's cool enough to carefully slice, then top with oodles of real butter. Yum! 







Wednesday, September 27

it's that time...



Join me for a walk around the farm this week, I'm feeling very...



goldenrod in bloom...the last big hurrah for honeybee winter food storage



hot sun streaming down on the fields...



garden bounty ready to become homemade pasta sauce...



the juiciest, sweetest pears...our first big harvest from this tree!



apples...ready for apple butter!



lovely blooms...these will dry beautifully



the crunch of leaves underfoot...



and the true sign of harvest time!




The soybeans are in...the fields are strangely empty. And while the corn isn't quite ready yet, it won't be long. With days and days of temperatures hitting 90 degrees, I'm looking forward to a break in the weather...a break the local news has promised will be coming tomorrow!

Like so many of you, we're on the doorstep of my favorite time of year; Fall! A time of harvest moons, crisp apple cider, the scent of woodsmoke, and sweater weather! October will bring more Farm Flicks (bonfires, hayrides, and outdoor movies) with friends, along with a Glamping night with best girlfriends (we call ourselves the Domestic Goddesses!)

Ahhh, a time of busyness, but a time to feel oh-so...








Tuesday, September 5

superheroes!


The world is filled with images of superheroes right now...

Captain America, Ironman, Spiderman, but here's something to think about...






Moms, you are heroes...and what you do matters! I love this quote from Susan Branch...


"You need to know that you are the fairies that run ahead
and make everything magical,
because you know that even the smallest of things can be special.
And you need to know that what you do is nothing short of heroic."


Hats off to Pink Tractor for sharing this photo with the world...enough said!


Tuesday, August 29

"just a housewife..."


I stumbled upon this photo one day while wandering through Pinterest...
ah, yes...how addictive! How inspiring! 

I love looking at photos from days past...lovely shadows, vintage dishes, a thoughtful expression. What is she gazing at through the window?

But what stopped me cold, was the comment posted underneath the photo...


Photo Source

"I would have liked to be 'just' a housewife."


It made me sad...made me stop...made me be grateful. I remember reading once that someone else is dreaming of what you already have.

Oh yes, I've done the 9-5. In a past life, I was the Sr. Book Editor for a cookbook publishing company.


Several years ago, many of us arrived to find that the company, in an effort to restructure, had made cuts in the staff. I was one of those, along with a great group of creative folks, who found themselves looking for a fresh start. Alas, cookbook editor jobs are few and far between, even more so in our little part of the Midwest. And one where I could work from home...that was impossible to find. 

But, as we say, "Life is Good." I began chasing a writing dream with my "free" time, I substitute teach at a terrific elementary school, and I bake for our local farmers' market grocery.

I'm here for the kids whenever they need me (as well as the chickens and goats) and hubby is supportive of my farmgirl wannabe dreams (except for the milk cow...he won't budge on that!) 

Someday soon I'll share my feelings on what I've learned along the way...no, you can't have it all, at least not at the same time, anyway. And oh, yes, what to say to those ladies who ask,
"What DO you do all day? Are you ever going back to work?"


I often think of this quote by Jeffrey R. Holland


 "Nature has its rhythms and its harmonies.
We would do well to fit ourselves as best we can 
with those cycles
rather than frantically throwing ourselves against them.
Be calm, be patient, be happy with the season you are in."


Each day I try to remember that motherhood never ends, but childhood does...be happy with the season I am in. Wise words indeed.


Thursday, August 17

Monday, August 14

confetti salsa!


My friend Peggy shared this recipe with me Wednesday...since then, I've made it 4 times!
It's called green tomatillo salsa, but looks like a happy toss of confetti to me!






Now here's the thing, there's no "right" or "wrong" to this recipe...and there are no specific amounts for ingredients.

Don't let that worry you...it WILL taste great no matter what you do!  Peggy chops her ingredients in a hand chopper so they're small and the result is a salsa that's much more sauce-like...yummy.

I like my salsa more (isn't there a better word than "chunky?!) substantial. So mine is less salsa-like and probably qualifies as more of a side-dish...is that a problem? It's fine with me! Anyway, I simply chopped mine by hand quickly because I couldn't wait to enjoy it.

So here you are, the recipe straight from Peggy. Ingredients are in a quantity order...for example lots of tomatillos, not so much cilantro. From the photo you'll see I love red onion...out of proportion to the recipe below, but this is yours to enjoy, so make it anyway you like! I'm going to add some avocado next time.





Peggy’s Salsa

tomatillos, peeled and chopped (lots!)
red onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
jalapeƱo pepper, chopped (amount to taste)
cilantro, chopped (to taste)
salt (to taste)
lime juice (to taste)

Combine all in a bowl, grab a bag of tortilla chips, get ready to be happy!







Tuesday, July 25

farmgirl photo...




Honeybee in the Tomato Soup...coneflower, that is!

I love the striking color of this variety...so glad I found it!





Thursday, July 13

farmgirl phone photos...


I try to keep my camera handy, it seems there's always something that just needs to be saved for the memories...old barns with chippy paint, glorious flower gardens, centuries old farmhouses, and regional eye-catchers like the hundreds of wind turbines we came across on our last road trip...they seemed to fill the fields for miles. 

However; there are times I just run out the door and don't bring my camera along...those are the days I see the most beautiful sights, and I'm left with only my phone camera. Ugh...and so it goes.

Such was the case last week...this sunset was so beautiful that my daughter and I just had to pull the truck off to the side of the road and really enjoy it. The shape of the clouds, the intense colors, the dramatic shadows...no photo trickery here, this is what we actually saw. And yet, the camera couldn't capture all of the beauty we saw with our own eyes.

I'm sorry to say, all I had was my phone, but I snapped some pictures anyway and wanted to share them.

(At least I didn't run out the door without my phone...which happens more than I'd like to admit!)










Tuesday, July 11

apples + apples = applesauce!


This week is applesauce week here on the farm. Our Yellow Transparent apple tree is loaded with apples, and they're ready to pick.

NOW!






To be honest, it takes longer to pick, peel, and slice apples than to turn them into applesauce, and there are two really easy ways to make applesauce...no more keeping watch over them while stirring on top of the stove for hours.

One...pull out your handy slow cooker, it just couldn't be easier!

Slow Cooker Applesauce

10 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 c. water
1/2 to 1 c. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker; stir to blend. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, or high setting 3 to 4 hours.


OR...

Electric Pressure Cooker Applesauce

8 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients into the inner pot, close the vent, and press STEAM/CANNING button and set it at 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, slide the steam release valve and allow the steam to escape, remove the lid.

Now yes, I do have an "old-fashioned" slow cooker, BUT this was made in an Power Cooker brand electric pressure cooker my family gifted me with at Christmas. 

And if yours isn't a Power Cooker, no matter which brand of pressure cooker you own, you'll find oodles of applesauce recipes online.

No electric pressure cooker? The slow cooker works perfectly as well...it gives you not time to slip outside to do a bit of gardening, curl up with a favorite book, or wrangle a few goats for hoof trimming! (see what we have planned?)





What to do with all your yummy applesauce? Well, it freezes perfectly, so once it's cooled, simply spoon it into freezer containers.  

Or, preserve jars for yourself as well as to share with your family & friends. I'll be spooning extra applesauce into jars and canning them...ready in only 15 minutes!

Enjoy the day, friends!













Tuesday, July 4

a day to pause and reflect...



George Washington praying at Valley Forge



"Whereas it is the duty of all Nations
to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God,
to obey his will, to be grateful for His benefits,
and humbly to implore His protection and favor."

~George Washington
October 3, 1789




Friday, June 30

chimney for the cute little house!


As promised, here's a better look at the chimney for the sweet little house in my previous post...





and wait until you get a close-up look at the exterior detail...



wow...


beautiful!




gorgeous!





This is the OUTSIDE of the chimney...amazing!

Next post I'll share a few more details...the windows and door are lovely, too.
(Okay, did I say I would move there in an instant?!)


Happy Friday!



Wednesday, June 21

Farmgirl photo...




love.
Love.
LOVE!



I'll tell you more about this soon!

Smoke house?
Summer kitchen?

Doesn't matter...I'd move right in in a heartbeat!
And wait till you see a close-up of the exterior fireplace...amazing.



Sunday, June 18

happy Fathers' Day!





Here's to steaks on the grill, strawberry pie, and an afternoon nap!
Thanks for all you do!


Friday, June 9

all the buzz...



It's that time of year...bee time!

Checking hives.

Chasing swarms.

Trying to keep the smoker, well...smoking!


But today is the best part...extracting!  Ahhh, the wonderful fragrance of honey paired with sticky fingers (which absolutely require licking, mmmm!) and dreams of honey drizzled over slices of warm, homemade bread. Yum!

And so today's post is short and sweet...my, oh my, befriend the bees!

As you plan your gardens this spring, give a little corner to bee-friendly plants...

Planting for the birds and bees:
Source: https://www.pinterest.com/wordpressdotcom/



It's oh-so easy to sprinkle a few seeds in a garden corner, a container, or even plan a whole bee-friendly garden!  

You'll be rewarded with beautiful blooms to cut and share, and you'll find your veggie garden or fruit trees will benefit as well...yep, it's a win-win!

Let me know what you plant and share your stories!
Happy Friday, friends!


Sunday, May 14

happy Mothers' Day!





For all the selfless giving, tucking in, goodnight kisses,
and a million other things

Happy Mothers' Day!


Sunday, April 30

spring cleaning...still



Spring cleaning is here,
I'm sorry to say,
Was not in March,
And here it is May!
March was too cold,
And April too fine,
To sweep remote corners,
And polish and shine.
But in this fair month,
I have motivation
If I don't clean house now,
I'll miss summer vacation!

-author unknown


Oh yes, it's been an on-going adventure since February...because I know if I don't start then, I'll never finish! (153 year-old farmhouses have oodles of nooks and crannies that seem to need attention.)

For such as task as this, it's best to have a good friend to share the "joy" with. My girlfriend Kathy and I have found that a brisk morning walk provides the fuel needed to get our homes in order. After an hour of chatting, catching up, and solving the world's problems, we are ready to dive into the day's To-Do List.

And so, armed with an assortment of items guaranteed to make the house sparkle and shine, the days are spent moving from room to room tackling everything from dust bunnies to the endless papers that seems to collect quite nicely in a vertical filing system. 

Throughout the day Kathy and I text one another to keep our motivation strong:

"I've just finished painting the last wall in the bedroom!" she excitedly tells me.

"That's great! I'm tackling paperwork." I tell her. "I can see the bottom of the desk!"

Back and forth we go, encouraging one another to keep moving on and sharing in the success as a job is crossed off our lists.

Sometimes, on a fine spring day, I'll take a break...which if I'm not careful, can quickly become a pitfall of spring cleaning. I'll step outside and sit in a favorite vintage, springy chair and listen to the birds singing, bees buzzing, and laugh as I watch the chicken races the girls are having in the run.  

I'm still working on my fiddle playing, and these cool and breezy days are just perfect to be outside, sitting in one of those springy chairs. I'm just starting to learn something new, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, which is an old song written in 1826. Take a listen here as the group Fiddlesticks shares their version. I hope to be this good some day...

Okay break time is over...I know I should feel like this, 


(photo source: http://theglamoroushousewife.com)


but honestly, I'm looking more like this!


(photo source: http://budget-maids.com)

Happy day friends!




Tuesday, April 25

time to slow down...


April has proven to be a tease...days hinting at summer, with temperatures at 80 degrees, days with snowflakes, and then days like yesterday which were sunny indeed, but greeted us with a strong cold wind from our friends up North...sweaters and sweatshirts were a must for venturing outdoors.

However; the past weekend here in our part of the Midwest was beautiful...even with a lingering chill, the April sun shown brilliantly and spring fever had us firmly in its grip! A peek inside last week's found bird's nest revealed 2 more eggs, along with a mama who was keeping a close eye on me!




Our family spent Saturday outside...mowing, raking, trimming, weeding, and starting the job of catching up on outdoor chores that needed done after a long winter's nap (both us and the farm!)  The burst of fresh air encouraged us to get moving and dig in! 

At the end of the day, flowerbeds were weeded, mowing was complete, and leaves raked. I still felt the urge to do more, but the day was over, and we were all worn out. 

Sunday came as a lovely morning...the air was sweet and filled with the buzzing of bees and a sapphire blue sky.  As a family we want to keep Sunday special...we try to make it truly a day of rest, worship, and reflection. In passing I said to my daughter, "Oh, I wish I could get some more things done today..it's so pretty outside!"

Her reply, "Just enjoy the creations around us."

Wise words indeed from a 16-year old...encouraging Mom to simply enjoy all that's around her. 

Tuesday we took a drive through the country to a nearby town, and were dazzled by glimpses of pink dogwood trees, brilliant yellow daffodils, deep purple lilacs, and the beginning of rosy azalea blooms. 

Yes...let's all take time to enjoy all the creations around us. There will be plenty of time for working later.


Friday, April 21

celebrating the unexpected...


While chasing a honeybee swarm (that got away), I discovered this....




a simple country pleasure, indeed.




Wednesday, April 12

spring...finally here?


Friday it snowed.

Today the forecast is 64 degrees, and Saturday 78!


I think, maybe, just maybe, spring is finally here. Today our farmhouse windows are open, and while there's a lingering chill in the April breeze, as it gently blows, it brings along with it the scents of spring...freshly-cut grass and the rich smell of newly turned earth. As the clouds drift by, the prospect of a beautiful sunny day stretches ahead.




By the big oak trees, the birds are chattering and in the coop beyond them the rooster can be heard crowing. In the distance, I heard the faint, steady sound of a tiller...one of our neighbors must be preparing a garden. And yet, in the middle of all of this happy farm tranquility, the jarring sound of a wet saw cutting tile breaks through. 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm tickled that the tile is being installed, it's just the contrast that makes me laugh this morning.  

April's lovely weather, paired with spring break, offers us lots of free time this week...a picnic is planned, along with kids' sleepovers, a trip to Grammy's, and the fun of Easter. Monday we were at the zoo, and we've completed a 5-mile hike our son needs for a Boy Scout Merit badge (might I mention I'll be tagging along on the required 10, 15 and 20 mile hikes as well...surely, this will burn some excess calories!)

And yes, while I'm an obsessive list-maker, I've also learned that it's often the things not on my list that end up making the best memories. Don't you agree, sometimes the unexpected just ends up being the most fun?

So I'm setting my list aside (just for now!) and throwing caution to the wind...join us!

What should we do today? What adventures are waiting?!





Friday, March 31

spring break is on its way...


For the last couple of weeks I've been spring cleaning...you know, Domestic Goddess chores as I like to call them. But spring break is just around the corner, and on the kids' wish list is a day at the zoo, a trip to Grandma's house, and a visit to the Humane Society in a neighboring town.  

Our son volunteered at the Humane Society as a Boy Scout merit badge activity and I tagged along...we had a great time!  Yes, there was work that needed to be done...cleaning litter boxes, washing feed bowls, and filling treat buckets, but the staff also encourages volunteers to socialize with the cats & dogs...yay! That meant lots of walks, tossing balls, and simply relaxing and spending time with the animals. 

And so, since April 11 is National Pet Day, why not celebrate by visiting your local shelter...I'm sure they'd love to have you lend a hand! (and take a critter...or 5 home!)

Come on...look at those eyes!












 
01 09 10