Welcome to our farmhouse…life is good!

Monday, November 19

be glad of life...

For a crackling fire and family to share it,
for bittersweet and plump pumpkins,
for a wood-bin filled with logs,
and for time to dream while staring into the flames.
I am thankful.

For quilts and trunks and weathered barns,
for fields now dusted with snow,
and the distant sound of an owl.
I am thankful.

For purring cats and smiling goats
for hens and dogs and bees,
I am thankful.

For time to live and the laughter of children,
for creaky old floors, glowing candles, and soft flannel sheets.

I am thankful.

This year, no matter where we find ourselves,
let us try to make every day
a day of thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15

things that make my heart happy...

Truly, it is the simple things in life that are the best.  

Yesterday, I was wishing I had some bittersweet to decorate with...a little to dress up the pumpkins on the front porch and wrap around the dinner bell post.  A few sprigs to tuck alongside the chartreuse hedge apples and leaves I'd added to the old laundry stand by the back door and some to fill the speckled enamelware pail that's in the mudroom.

Those bunches of cheery orange and red berries are just one of the simple things that are oh-so pretty and say "Fall" to me!

So off I went into the woods...surely there must be bittersweet growing somewhere. I walked and walked...


It was getting cold and the wind was picking up, so back to the house I started. But this time I took a different path, and along the fence I saw a tall blaze of orange and off I went! The closer I got yes, it WAS bittersweet!  And tall... probably 15 feet of glorious vines filled to overflowing.  So I gathered armfuls and put them in the back of the truck...then I went back and gathered more. Once home,  I had a ball wrapping them here and there...as my daughter says, it was something that, "makes my heart happy!"

However; mother nature had a trick up her sleeve.  While we slept, freezing rain and ice visited the old farmhouse. School was cancelled (yay!) but a peek outside found all my bittersweet covered in an icy glaze. 

But you know, that delicate ice has a beauty all its own. And that's just fine with me.  It's a quiet day here...reading, crackling fire, and homemade cocoa. 

I am thankful for the simple country pleasures.

Tuesday, November 13

fall magic...

This time of year, the grassy paths I take to greet chickens and goats are covered with leaves. Leaves that break the morning quiet with their "crunch, crunch"  and leaves that look as if I'm walking on a vintage paisley carpet. The bright cherry red and mustard yellow colors of October have been replaced with browns and golds, and the trees are bare, but that's okay...it signals a time to stack wood, fill the pantry, and snuggle in for the winter to come.

Early November always reminds me of my first college Design class...the instructor took us outside in November to teach us about Shibui ... designing with the colors of late fall. Along with the colors there are 7 design elements...simplicity, implicity, modesty, naturalness, everydayness, imperfection, and silence.  To me, those sum up autumn perfectly.

Last night we had our first fire in the fireplace, and today the flannel sheets go on the beds...two sure signs the weather has turned and it's time to get cozy! Autumn in our part of the country has been unusual this year...truly, temperatures were in the 90's one week, then dipped down into the 50's with no going back. Daytime temperatures are hovering around 40 and and our lowest night has been 18.  Brrr!

But before the winter winds blow and we're doing a happy dance because of snow days from school, I wanted to share one of my "never stop making wishes" moments.

No, this isn't about Maizy, but about tinkering with the idea of a farm stand. When fall came and it was time to prepare the garden for it's winter nap, I gathered all the final veggies and decided to make a little roadside stand. 

I pulled together an old window I found tucked in the barn along with retro chalkboards and paired them with a cheery tablecloth, honor box, and signs.  My first customer stopped before I could finish setting up!

Paper bags were filled with Brandywine and Amish paste tomatoes, jalapeƱo, banana, bell, and salsa peppers, small red and yellow potatoes, and a little recipe card.

While I don't want to commit right now to every Saturday at the Farmers' Market on the town square, this was a simple way to offer extra goodies from our garden. It was nothing big, but fun to do!

I'm already making plans for next year...how about Mason jars of sunflowers or cottage garden bouquets? Herbs...fresh and dried?  And jars of raw honey as well!

But that's next summer...for now we'll enjoy the season we are in. Time to watch the full moon rise while the fire crackles, listen to the owl in the white pine, and enjoy every minute of harvest and home.

Monday, October 29

simple country pleasures...

October...my favorite month of the year! Filled with brilliant shades of dusky bronze, mustard yellow, russet red, and deep burgundy. A bundle of Indian corn hangs as a harvest greeting on our farmhouse door, a tower of plump pumpkins are stacked in the urns that once held pretty pink begonias, and piles of leaves are everywhere. I love the sound of fall leaves crunching underfoot...it's the only sound to be heard early in the morning as I go outside to greet chickens and goats...who, by the way, are sleeping in just a bit longer on these gray, cool mornings.

In the evenings we can hear the call of a Great Horned Owl in the distance. If all goes as it does each year, any time now he (or she) will move into the tall pine tree in our front yard...owls calling to one another late at night make for a perfectly eerie Halloween feel.

And oh, it's time for pumpkin patches...I mean look at this!


Can you blame me for pulling the truck right in to check it out?!

There were oodles and oodles of pumpkins...

Look how clever...a round hay bale wrapped in orange plastic and painted to look like a pumpkin (check out the log on top to resemble a stem!)

and of course, as promised - pigs!

Little ones that given half a chance would have made their way home with us!

And see that little sign off to the right?  Directly under it is a Mason jar to drop money in. I absolutely love that...an honesty jar. It just doesn't get any better than that...call me old-fashioned.

A family farm, overflowing with pumpkins, and they invite passers-by to just pull in, greet the little pigs, choose a favorite pumpkin, and drop money in the jar.

Yep, call this Heartland farmgirl old-fashioned...that's just fine.

Thursday, October 11

wise words...

If you haven't yet heard of Tasha Tudor, just click here and get to know her...what an inspiration to live simply and enjoy the sweet every day moments. I've read her books and been captivated by her way of life for years...she's the one who inspired me to roast turkeys in an old-fashioned tin kitchen before a crackling fire (it truly tastes wonderful!), to appreciate the
"rustle" of the gingham ruffle on a full-length pinafore apron, and it was Tasha who first introduced me to Nubian goats...ahhh, those adorable long ears!

Tasha was described as "fiercely independent" (hmmm, I was once described as that; still makes me laugh!) and a woman with a simple life and a sprawling garden. 

Mother Earth News said of her: "She wears her long frocks, petticoats, aprons, lacy kerchiefs, and handknit shawls with an unconscious grace, as if she truly lived 150 years earlier.  Her days unfold with a gentle rhythm, from earliest light when she sets out barefoot to milk her goats until she settles in the parlor by the fireplace with a cup of chamomile tea at nightfall."

I like the sound of that, "a gentle rhythm" it sounds peaceful in today's often frenetic world.

I'm going to plant an herbal tea garden next spring...so when the days grow short and the winter winds blow, I can sit by the fireplace at the end of my day and enjoy a cup of tea.

Tuesday, October 2

Look at this tomato!

This week I'm putting the garden to bed for winter...harvesting, tilling, and adding compost...where did the summer go? (Although with temps in the upper 90's
and high humidity all summer long, I have to admit I'm ready for fall and winter.
Bring on the sweaters!)

In the next few days the last of our garden veggies will become pasta sauce and salsa to enjoy when the frosty winds blow and we need a little reminder of what a REAL summertime tomato tastes like. And if you're looking for a new recipe for keeping summer in a jar, try this one for Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce. We think it's really good and it's super simple to make.

And so today, in my salute to REAL tomatoes, I have to share a photo. When I saw this tomato, it practically jumped out at me and cried, "I'm perfect for a BLT!"  I mean look at it, one slice will cover an entire sandwich!

2-1/2 pounds of glorious tomato that's 4-1/2 inches across

...I almost hate to slice it!

Guess what's on the dinner menu this week? Yep...definitely BLT's and BLAT's (slices of avocado added, mmm). I can taste it now on home-baked sourdough bread. I may just have to try my hand at homemade mayonnaise, too...this tomato deserves the best!

And no, this beauty didn't come from my garden, I found it at a little farmers' market at the edge of town. Ahhh, but a girl can dream, I'm definitely going to ask what variety it is and add it to my own garden next year!

Sunday, September 16

a speedy summer...

Yes, it's true...time does fly. We all know that, but it's still hard to accept that the calendar says school is well underway. We've been loving Friday night football games, and I admit we are partial to the halftime show (our son plays the trumpet in the band!)

Now, I'm a firm believer in a full 3 months of summer vacation for kids and a start date of after Labor Day. Kids should be allowed to be kids...and for this family summer means staying up late, camping, glamping, movie marathons, star gazing, homemade lemonade, grilling out, sleeping in, and anything else we can think of. Our daughter was able to spend a month dancing with a ballet company and our son was honored to take his 4H robot to the State Fair for judging. I'm happy to say we spent time perfecting the no-bake cookie recipe and ate them non-stop for probably a week...okay, maybe more!

However; I am not the voice of the school administration, and classes in our part of the Midwest began in mid-August (in my humble opinion; ridiculous.)

And so that's why it's been so long since my last post...we've been hanging onto every summer moment as much as possible.

We recently took a trip to Greenfield Village and loved it, so I wanted to share a few pictures...oh the houses, oh the gardens...I could move right in!

If you have the chance to visit, and love history, it's definitely worth the trip...and be sure to plan for a full day to see it all. Now the Henry Ford Museum is right next door...that was another visit I'll share next time.

Monday, July 2

meant to be!

This photo has been on my bathroom remodel wish list for ages. I just love the old cast iron & porcelain sink, handy drainboard, and vintage-style faucets. If you've been visiting here for awhile, you know I love anything old...it's just how I'm wired!

source: here

And so this week I'm meandering through Craigslist and this pops up:

"Vintage Kohler cast iron and porcelain sink...still has original brass drain stopper...excellent condition...1940."

Wow, love that! Where is it? Probably hours from here. Big sigh...

LOCATION:                        10 minutes away!

No way! Get out! Happy dance!
Show hubby, hop in car, go visit, love it!

What are the chances? I mean look! I can't be the only one who gets excited over old sinks with drainboards! (They're practically twins...except for the base, ours is dated August 26, 1958)

And so a happy ending...this little beauty on the right has a new home and I can't wait to get her in place. Not sure what color to paint the vanity...any suggestions? 

I'm thinking I'll pair it with a claw foot tub something like this...

and maybe some beadboard...

Have I mentioned there's a clawfoot tub in our basement? It was here when we moved in, tucked away in the 1864 cellar of this old house (complete with partial dirt floor and 6 trees holding up the entire house, but that's a story for another time.) This week I've got a reason to give that tub a much closer look!

Now if I can just fine someone who's looking for a vintage commode and tub in retro pink...Country Living Magazine is pretty sure pink bathrooms are making a comeback...there's even a website dedicated to the pink craze; save the pink bathrooms!

Interested? Drop me a note, I'll make you a real deal!

Thursday, June 28

heartfelt thanks to MaryJanes Farm...love the Wild Bread book!

Some days it just seems like there's extra happiness that greets me!

flowers bursting with color...
(no filters, I promise)

a volunteer gourd/pumpkin plant that is growing like crazy!
(somewhere behind it is a hidden birdbath)

Even a chippy red watering can makes me smile.

and then...
an email from Debbie, MaryJanes Beach Farmgirl,
that says I'm the lucky winner of
MaryJane Butters new Wild Bread book!

I couldn't have been more surprised or thrilled,
and i
n no time at all this was on my doorstep...

I spent the night in our little camper Maizy, curled up reading it cover-to-cover!

It's packed with great recipes and step-by-step how-to's. And truly, these photos don't do the originals justice...trust me, they're beautiful!

I bake for our local farmers' market, and I can't wait to share these wonderful breads with my customers...I know they'll go crazy!

Thanks so much to MaryJanes Farm for offering this book as a giveaway...you truly made my day.

My first batch of starter is on the counter now...oh dear, a true weakness for me: warm bread topped with real butter, mmm, for me, there's not much that beats that!

Wednesday, June 13

a Maizy follow-up & questions answered...

As a quick PS to my last post about our vintage camper, I thought I'd answer a couple of questions I've gotten lately...
  • Hmmm, I see the propane tank is missing...how will you use the stove?
  • Since the propane lines weren't hooked up, we decided to postpone work on the stove
    for now, so we'll be using this handy "breakfast station" by Nostalgia (find it here).
    With a toaster oven, griddle, and coffee maker for hot water (we're not coffee drinkers,
    but it'll be perfect for instant cocoa or herbal tea). We can make grilled cheese or French bread pizza, too, so it'll definitely come in handy!

  • I love the colorful dishtowels, where did you find them?
  • A friend gave them to me as a birthday gift (thanks, Lisa!) and I liked them so much, I picked up a couple more. They're from The Pioneer Woman collection (here) at our local Walmart. All her colors are so cheery and are a perfect match!

This salt & pepper shaker set is from The Pioneer Woman, too...they are just so sweet, and again, her colors are spot on for what I had in mind.

I added theses cookbooks for fun (although they really do have some good, old-fashioned recipes). They were gifts from a great cook (that's you, Carol!). The cover photo on the front book just seemed to fit the retro theme, and the copy on the cover of the book behind it says, 

"Swanky food from the '50s and '60s"! 

Wow, how could I resist recipes for "swanky" food while Glamping?!

Just another little I had tucked away that seemed to be a good fit...a red sifter on a Pioneer Woman dishtowel.

And that's the latest...can't wait to get her back with her new roof so she's ready no matter the weather!  

In the meantime there's more pillows to stitch and I found some retro goodies at our local feed store...will share those when she's back.

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