Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Wednesday, January 30

swings & roundabouts...

swings & roundabouts.
six of one, half-dozen of another.
six and two threes.

However you say it, it means things even out.

Now I love a good January snowstorm, and once I know we're all safely settled in, along with the goats and chickens, barn cats and dog, a heavy snow gets me in the nesting frame of mind...I want to bake, watch a Cary Grant movie, and cozy up under a quilt.

However; when rain is predicted in January, and we know the temperature is going to plummet the same night, it is not something to look forward to.

First, 5 inches of snow settled on the farm, leaving drifts around the barns that were knee-high. Lovely snow...the picture-perfect kind of snow made for snowmen, sledding, and snow ice cream!

Then it came...within a couple of days the temperature raised to 42 degrees followed by pouring rain. At night it dropped to 18 degrees, and everything froze. We watched as the ice collected on the tree branches and powerlines...our farm is the last home on our power provider, which translates into being the last to be repaired if needed. We were as prepared as possible with wood stacked handily by the back door, kerosene heater filled, gasoline standing by for the generator, and candles ready to light. On nights like these, the kitchen sink tap is turned to a slow drip and we sleep a little restlessly.

Luckily for us, the power stayed on...all is well. A trip up the ladder to break ice in the gutter and the downspout, then a little brute strength to open car doors, and we were just fine.

This morning, I can hear ferocious winds whistling through the tall pines and see the branches swinging. Old Man Winter is rattling the windows and sending an icy blast through any nook and cranny that can be found in this 155-year old farmhouse. Yes, it's been much colder, so we are fortunate, while so many spots around the country are brutally cold. In our part of the Midwest it's -5 with a wind chill of -25...local schools sensibly decided to cancel classes for the next two days. 

We'll be outside to check on animals about every 4 hours and that means bundling up head-to-toe...Carhartt® overalls and a down vest, heavy coat, boots, gloves, and winter face masks. Warm? Yes. Stylish? Well, that depends on your sense of style...warmth over fashion for me today!

And so, how does this relate to swings and roundabouts? It means things all even out.

The temperature being forecast for next Tuesday is 55 degrees.


Hope wherever you are,  you're safe, warm, and cozy!

Saturday, January 19

making ready for the snowstorm...

Maple, oak, and spruce trees surrounding the farmhouse are holding steady as the wind howls across the empty fields. Fields that are so lovely in summer filled with tall corn swaying in the breeze, but fields that when harvested and empty allow the wind to blow ferociously against us with a mighty strength.

For our part of the Midwest, we're expecting 8 to 12 inches of snow today... and that's just fine with me. I love the idea of a good old-fashioned snowstorm...there's just something about it that brings out my Laura Ingalls pioneer spirit! 

We're ready...wood is stacked by the kitchen door, the pantry is full, animals have cozy spots to snuggle in and will enjoy treats at bedtime...apples for the goats, scratch for the hens. Outdoor chores are done and now I'm sitting inside, safe in the warmth of a country kitchen. Everything everywhere is cancelled...it's a day of good books, old movies, and yes, the occasional nap.

Today is also the perfect time for hot soup and homemade bread. I was gifted with a slow-cooker trio this past Christmas (three 1-1/2 quart slow cookers that share a base), and each mini cooker is filled with a different soup, so a bowl can be enjoyed whenever someone needs warming up. The kids are wanting to know if I'll make cookies. Of course! Nothing else goes so well on a frosty day with a favorite movie...add mugs of chocolaty cocoa and buttery popcorn and it's sure to be a long cozy day at home. Choosing the movie will be the hardest part: will it be an old classic like North by Northwest, The Great Race, or Father Goose? Or maybe something newer, say Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?

It doesn't really matter...as I've heard said:

"Home means more than where we hang our hat."

Sunday, January 13

Is there anyone who actually enjoys taking down the Christmas tree?

I've asked that question in the past...and I'll hear, "Yes! I can't wait to get things back to normal." While I'm sure that's true for many of you, that's never been the case for me. Taking down the tree is January's melancholy moment.

In December, opening up boxes of ornaments is like uncovering treasures!  Handmade decorations made from Popsicle sticks, outlines of little feet or hands, and colorful glass balls collected from favorite vacation spots...a little bell that reads, "Zion National Park", a Mark Twain Steamboat, the Chicago skyline and Navy Pier, and the sand dollar from Hawaii with a cheerful "Mele Kalikimaka" written on it.

Now it's true, at least for us, ornaments multiply when no one is watching. Don't ask me how, but I know we have enough ornaments for several trees! And somehow, the ornament boxes I have tucked away in a trunk never seem to haven enough spaces when it's time to fill them again.

I suppose this could be the reason...I found a few ornaments this year that seemed just right for our family.

Like this one...
our daughter had her braces removed, yay!
Now she can enjoy popcorn again!

One of our favorite places to eat always has bags of
cotton candy...I have to come home with at least 2 bags!
(hey, they're small bags!)

Our son is working on his Eagle Scout Project...
he wants to build Barn Owl nest boxes
(they're endangered in our area)
so this caught my eye.

He has also joined me in my love of hot peppers...
and this ornament came home, too!

And while this ornament isn't new,
now there's actually a sweet little camper
to enjoy...and Maizy is her name!

This ornament is from last year too;
however on Christmas I was gifted with a Candy Apple Red mixer!
(Such a sassy color for me!) My old Kitchenaid has been around
for nearly 30 years 
and works without a hitch, but does get
warm while 
mixing bread dough. This new one is much bigger, 
so now I can have both mixing up goodies at once...
perfect for the baking I do to sell at the farmers' market!

To make a long story short; no, our decorations are not packed away just yet...there's still one tradition that needs to happen...a camp-out under the tree. It really is beautiful falling asleep under all the twinkling lights.

When the time comes to pack away all the sweet memories, it will be a Blue Willow Society moment...I'll tell you more about that soon. It involves 2 dear friends, vintage Blue Willow teacups, and a steaming pot of herbal tea.

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