Friday, October 31, 2014

Paint what you can

Last Saturday was a beautiful fall day.
I love spending beautiful days doing outdoor projects on the farm.

Now here’s the deal…. The house is in serious need of some paint.
But I don’t have the time or resources to paint the whole house exterior.
My thing was I really wanted the front entrance (a nice little corner) of the house painted.
It was really bugging me.

And I had the time and the paint to get that done.
So I did.
And since I had paint left in my cup, I decided to touch up the front porch and the back porch. And paint the back door. Sigh. Sometimes I roll like that.
Oh there is plenty that still needs painting but these little areas are done for now and they make me happy.

Because I’m embracing the simple fact that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful (thanks Nester)
And if little half-completed small tasks make me smile- I should do them.

Isn't that a beautiful difference? And now that one bright, shining, non-paint chippy spot is making me smile.
And also this spot right here- the back door.
It was looking pretty sad until Saturday.....

Yes, the rest of the back side needs a good scrape and paint but that door and the bit of white siding to the right of it look spiffy now!
And that makes me smile.

The other thing that makes me smile is finally finding a very close match to that dark green paint after hauling home paint samples from 5 different stores. [The piece of paper that we wrote down that color and number on are long gone.] Winner: Forest Floor by Do it Best Corp (and I mention it here so I have record to come to....]

With the weather changes the green may have to wait until Spring, but just in case another nice day comes around again this fall.... I'm ready.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sharing the In Between.... Farmhouse Projects

A year ago we had finally put our yellow townie farmhouse up for sale and began preparations for moving to the farm.
We started scraping, patching and painting the inside of the farmhouse in earnest.
We moved here in May and proceeded to paint 3 more rooms.
And then we stopped.
This mama got tired of painting....
and we had outside projects to work on.
and we started back to school.
And we needed to spend some time living in these rooms to get a feel for how to proceed.
Especially with the kitchen.
That one's gonna take some time and ingenuity.

The thing is- not one room is totally and completely finished where I would say- Yay! It's done.
Not a one.

The family closet is painted and the shelves are up but there are boxes on the floor full of things we don't know where to put....
There are curtain rods to be hung, curtains to be sewn and artwork to be put up in the master bedroom.
And more of the same in the girls' room.
And the boy's room....

And so life goes.

And I haven't shown you a single remodeling project on the blog since we moved in.

Well that's about to change- even if the rooms aren't complete and finished and just so.
Because I am reminded of the Nester's lovely, freeing motto: It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. 

Which is why I went ahead and hung a couple pieces of the material that our master bedroom curtains are going to be made of.... right up on that lovely curtain rod. Just cut fabric clipped and hung- no frills, no nice, straight seams.... yet it makes me smile. It's just the right splash of color. And it makes me happy.
And that's good.
So why shouldn't I do a bit of sharing of the In Between?
Not just started and yet not finished.... The In Between.

Really.... It's nice to see progress.... where we've been and how far we've come..... Like the master bedroom for instance:

So stick around.... and see what we've got going on in these farmhouse spaces.

Here's one more for funsies.... The Family Room In Between-

Isn't that wonderful?! The first photo is when my mama was still packing the room up. She painted that room right before we moved here in June of 1981 and it hadn't been painted again.... just the addition of a wallpaper border and wallpaper "wainscoting" sometime in the early 90's. She had some wonderful furniture in here that really made it work for her and her style.... but not mine. This was a fun room to redo.
We widened and raised the curtain rods to give more height to the room and painted it a lovely color called Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams. The couch and hanging lamp are from Ikea. My Lu sewed those lovely pillow covers and I painted the coffee and end tables with chalk paint.
I love how tranquil this room feels to me. And it's Lu's favorite spot to do school.

So what do you think? Would you share your In Between or would you rather see completely finished rooms?
Do you live in the "in between" of half finished rooms like me? Does it drive you crazy?
Tell me. I really wanna know.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Words Matter: Naming the {Farm}

I love words.
On a good day, I consider myself a bit of  a wordsmith.
Other days.... I just simply enjoy words.
I love typography.
Seriously love it.
Typography is words with visual appeal.
I'm a sucker for a quirky, interestingly made letter.

Combine those loves with the fact that we just finally, after five months of living here, decided on a farm name that everyone agrees on....
Well, that right there's gotta be celebrated and proclaimed just so.

You see, this farm we inhabit has a story that ties directly to my heart strings.
Because this is my family farm; the farm where I grew up.

And now I'm back, with my little family of five, right here on familiar ground with familiar people.
We're reclaiming the land, shaping up the house and helping my parents build a little mom & pop apartment in the wonderful, retro 1940's gas station building on our property.
Three generations together on family land.

Can you hear my heart sigh?
Can you see why this farm naming is such a bigger than big deal?
I thought so.

Our farm name is dual- straight from scripture and also a play on words, one of my mama's passions.

Pulling from scripture, pulling from The Word.....

So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic."
Isaiah 38:16

And I simply love the message version of Ephesians 2:19-22
 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

And finally- 1 Peter 2:5-6 (NIV):
You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Living stones.... a sure foundation.... a home country.... building a home.... you belong in what he is building.... fitting you brick by brick, stone by stone..... with Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone.

Those words draw me in and call me home. They label me and mine and fit us brick by brick into this space of land and house and blue sky..... fit us stone by stone to this place God provided for us with his infinitely blessed and sweet timing.

Without further ado-- May I present our farm name:

And the play on words? Our farm is situated on a corner with a very large stone sitting out front.
Cornerstone Farm

And here's where the typography comes in- Day's Spring's (in)Courage store's new line of typography letters, Words Matter Letterpress Blocks.
When I saw these, I was smitten.
Seriously smitten.

Because words matter. And words that matter should be celebrated in beautiful ways.

And I couldn't just stop there.... I also played with the idea of family and farm....

Aren't those brackets darling?!

You can create your own words using the different fonts and block sizes to create your own beautiful, unique word picture right on their website.

This would look stinkin' cute in my dining room:

And the room we're turning into a sitting room/family library..... well, this gets me good >>>

The naming of things is important and words matter.
Do you have a word that is resonating with you? Or the special naming of something that needs to be celebrated like our farm?
Create your word!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Crocktober 2014 Recipe: Ham It Up! Slowcooker Casserole

Alas, October is almost over...
Which means I've basically missed much of my beloved "Crocktober"....
Well, at least posting about Crocktober on here, that is.

I've managed to make at least one crock pot meal a week around here.
And with the temps having dipped into brrr chill area these last couple of weeks, we've enjoyed quite a nice variety of soups.

Tonight we're having my very favoritest chili- White Chicken Chili (recipe here).

In honor of Crocktober still hanging around for a few more days...
Here's last year's post that links to all my crock pot recipes to date.

And here's a new recipe!

Ham It Up! Slowcooker Casserole

6 medium potatoes, sliced thin (yes, leave the skin on- it's good for you!)
1 medium (fist sized) onion, chopped
1 pound ham, cubed
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (the sharper the better, in my opinion)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
Paprika (optional but really, just do it)

In your slowcooker, layer the following: half your sliced potatoes, half of the onion and half a cup of cheese. Do it again with the other halves.
Spread the two cans of soup over the top using a spatula to spread it all over so it completely covers up all the potatoes and ham and cheesy goodness. Top it off with remaining half cup of cheese then sprinkle liberally with paprika. Not lightly, liberally!
Cook on low for 8 hour or on high for 4 hours.

This dish is quite filling! We baked up some biscuits and served up the last of our home grown tomatoes, sliced thick, as a side dish.

Really wishing I'd taken a picture of that deliciousness but I was too busy eating it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

If you're still hanging around... Thanks.

To the five to eight readers who check in regularly and still believe I can blog.
Bless you.
Finding time to write at the farm has proved harder than I had ever anticipated.
My first job is to my family and following right close behind is being a homeschool teacher.
Those two jobs right there don’t afford me a lot of free time.
And to be honest, when I do have free time, I read a book or take a nap….. Life here is BUSY!
Here's the latest photo of my 3.... the three I spend the bulk of my time on. The three that are my j o b. Whew.

Lucy is a senior this year.
I know.
It’s a big deal.
I’m in the midst of taking her senior photos.
And two of her cousins senior photos as well.
It’s a big deal.
She’s got a great course load this year. An “easy” one too as she worked so hard those first three years of high school. She only has 4 credits she absolutely needs for graduation requirements.... She’s doing two independent study classes- sewing and genealogy. She created her own syllabus and course schedule for each. She’s become quite the genealogy buff and we have to set a time limit on her for her genealogy class or she’d spend most of her day up to her nose in researching the family tree. As for sewing, she’s currently in curtain mode. Making curtains for all our bedrooms and the sitting room/little library. She plans on helping Mads make her very first quilt too. So she’s also “student teaching” which is very good.

Speaking of Mads, she’s a freshman. Having two kiddos in senior high has added more minutes to my school day. I spend a nice chunk of time grading papers and workbooks every day. Mads is enjoying her classes. Even if it’s the heaviest class load she’s ever had; she really is enjoying it. She’s doing Notgrass’s World History this year and loves it. It’s much more intensive than she’s done for history in the past, but due to the fact that we’re history buffs in this house- it’s a very good fit. She’s also taking German (using Living Languages) and enjoying it immensely. We let her choose her foreign language class and she chose German as our family has quite a large amount of German ancestry. Sam likes to sit in on her German video lessons and tries out his new words on us a dinner every night.

Oh that Boy of mine.... he’s in fifth grade now. Reading continues to be a challenge but not nearly as bad as it has been in the past.  Oh, He just loves being read to but doesn’t really enjoy reading himself. We continue to plug away at it and some days it really is a chore; for both of us. But we soldier on. Our key right now is reading the right books. I chucked most of the readers that went with our curriculum and have researched interesting boy type (adventure, madness and mayhem, hilarious, gross) books that are at, just below or just above his current reading level. Our first book of the year was Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and he loved it. It combined lots of new, big words with hilariously fun stories. Now we are reading Sideways Stories from Wayside School and the smaller chapters are helping him stay on task and sharpen his reading skills. 

We just started our 11th year with our little local co-op homeschool group. Each of the kids has three classes. Lu is helping teach a weapons class with another high school senior and is taking a multi-media art class plus a creative writing class. Mads is also taking the art and creative writing classes as well as a cake decorating class, which she is seriously enjoying. That girl loves to bake and decorate! Sammer is taking a science class for boys (think oozing, gooey and gross), the weapons class that Lu is co-teaching and a Spanish class. So he's dabbling in both German and Spanish right now! 

As for me.... the days are full. I'm teaching the mulit-media art class as well as the creative writing class to the middle school and high school students in our co-op and am overseeing the weapons class (although I must say those student teachers have it well under control). I also managed to squeeze in a great little online hand-lettering class through Skill Share in September. I sincerely enjoyed it, even with my perfectionist tendencies setting themselves to war with an eraser.... It was my one thing for the month to do just for me. This month my one thing has been photography- both for fun and for reals as I've managed to get myself a few clients for senior pictures. Mostly my nieces. And my daughter. But it's good nonetheless.

Here's to looking forward to my presence here being a bit more.... present.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our First Fall at the Farm

Last week was our four month Farmiversary.
And yes, we are still very much in the honeymoon faze here.
Every single day we continue to be more and more in love with this space God has given us.
I find it crazy silly sometimes when I think on how my heart fought against this for a time.

And here we are, officially in our very first fall on the farm.
It's seriously lovely so far.
Allow me to fill up this post with some wonderful glimpses of fall on the farm....

A few of the Ladies. Yes, that is what we call them.
As far as animals go- we haven't added to the one dog, 14 chickens ratio.... yet.
We're planning on getting a couple of pigs this fall, we've got the fencing and other paraphernalia and we know where we want to set it all up.... it's just a matter of getting it done. We've also got the pigs' names picked out. Yeah, we're those kind of farmers.
We also need to butcher 2 of our 3 roosters.
Because, really.... who needs 3 roosters?!
Especially when they take to crowing in stereo.
At 3:30 am.
And a few of the hens are molting.
Which means egg production has dropped considerably.
The good news is that our younger hens started laying their first eggs last week. So we aren't going without!
Is it silly that we celebrate these mini-eggs? We took pictures and marked the date on the family calendar. Oh the different things we look forward to with great anticipation here on the farm....

The weather has been kind enough that we haven't yet had to fire up the outdoor wood stove. The Mister is holding out for October 1st at the earliest.
I think it may even wait a couple of days after that.... Regardless of when we fire it up, I'm just so stinkin' excited to be burning wood for heat after 20 years of paying for natural gas. Seriously looking forward to the cozy factor of wood heat. And I love the smell of a good wood fire!

The summer vegetable garden is just about done. We're still harvesting a few cucumbers and tomatoes but it's dwindling fast.
We managed to grow 3 pumpkins in the garden. One for each kiddo. 

I'm so thankful the zinnias I planted are still going gangbusters.
I have big plans to add to my cutting flower portion of the garden next year. These flowers make me so happy!

Fall also means cleaning out the flower beds and pots. A task I am loathe to do when they are still looking half way decent but I know it's necessary. However, I treated myself to a few mums and a lovely ornamental cabbage to help me with the transition.

I expanded my canning horizons this year to include pasta and pizza sauce. It has been a seriously enjoyable experience. And it doesn't hurt that My Man can't stop raving about my amazing sauce and having everyone that stops by take a sample taste. I enjoyed it so much that I didn't try my hand at canning stewed tomatoes because I was so busy pureeing them. I made a note to self to not get so carried away next year. My secret ingredient is purple basil. Yum.

We'll be making applesauce soon and I hope to also give making apple butter a go. I must admit that I didn't think I'd find canning such a rewarding and fun activity. Yes, God is good.

The wood burner.... and the front of our lovely compost system.
We started our new compost system this past month too. A piece of fencing, three pallets and some fence posts and we've got us a 3 bin system (new pile, cooking pile and done, ready-to-be-used pile). Lu and Sam painted it white for me.
I love it.

The Mister is teaching the Boy to chop wood. I must admit that it gave me a start to see him swinging that ax but as I watched my husband tutor our son, I knew this was another one of those "rights of passage" and so I smiled, said a prayer for protection and let them carry on. He came inside with a blister and a huge grin that night. God is good.

And this right here.... this is our west field. We'll expand part of the garden into this field and we have plans for a small orchard in part of this space too. Right now, this is one of my favorite views.

In Farm Project news, we continue to help my Pop with his and mom's little Mom & Pop Apartment. Windows went in a few weeks ago and the wrap went on in preparation for siding. In keeping with the look and feel of the old farm, my dad is having wood siding custom made just like the old siding was.... oh, the nostalgia! We were able to salvage enough pieces from the original building to do the peaks but there just wasn't enough to finish the entire building. 

We've got quite the list of projects for Fall here on the homestead. And I'd like to squeeze in a bit of fall flower bulb planting in anticipation of some new beauty in the spring. I have always enjoyed the revolving of the seasons so it is with great pleasure that I view them so much more deeply and it seems, with a slower savoring right here on the farm.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Playing Catch Up

And so it has come to pass that I have indeed taken an unintentional but very much needed blogging break this summer. It seems moving to the country, fixing up an old farmhouse and starting your own little farm doesn't leave much time for me to sit down and put thought to paper.....
And while I missed it, I enjoyed what filled my time so much more so.

We just celebrated our 3 month farmiversary on Sunday and we still (me most of all) marvel at how much we love this place and how deeply it has entwined itself in our hearts, minds and souls. We are, apparently, quite cut out to be farm people.
Who knew?

In the past three months I have managed to unpack perhaps 2/3 of our boxes. It's a daunting task people. Not for the faint of heart.... and some days, well, some days I just don't wanna do it.
So I don't.

In the past three months we have patched, primed and painted 4 rooms, built shelves and hauled three trunk loads of "stuff" to Goodwill. It's interesting how I thought I needed it when I packed it months ago and upon gazing at it now, it has no pull.... so out it goes.

I still can't find my favorite, passed down from my grandfather glass pie dish.
And I haven't even felt the need to hunt up the boxes of living room and dining room knick-nacks.
I do, however, miss all our books.
So we're slowly unpacking those boxes now that we're almost done with the schoolroom.

School starts next week.
I'm not ready. 
I don't think my kids are either.

Our summer has been super crazy and yet simply amazing.
We lived here one month before we took off on a week long urban mission trip.
And then we had far off relatives come and stay for an entire week.... family two of my kiddos had never met and my oldest doesn't even remember meeting and I hadn't seen in over fifteen years. It was the bestest, stir your heart and share the memories week I've had in I can't remember when.
We all promised it wouldn't be 15 years before we did it again.
I missed them 10 minutes after they were gone.
And I miss them still.

Our summer has been about family, farm and food.
The six chicks we added to the flock this spring are growing up nicely.
Except that 3 of them are roosters.... and like to have crowing competitions.
Often.... as in most of the day.
We are currently fattening them up in preparation for a few Sunday dinners in our near future.

We spent a good chunk of summertime helping my parents begin a remodel that will be their little mom and pop apartment. And then we started working hard on the schoolroom....
Which is almost done.
Yes, we're 3 months into this two generations together gig and we're all still getting along just peachy keen fine. No, I'm not kidding. My parents went on a four day get-away two weeks ago and we missed them terribly. We've worked out a nice routine as two generation family of seven all living together.
I was once asked if we felt like the Waltons.
Yeah, a little bit. In a very good way and on just a wee bit smaller scale.

The girls and I have been baking and canning.... putting up the first of the harvests. We've got almost fifty pounds of blueberries in the freezer (we ate about ten pounds fresh!), thirty-five quarts of green beans frozen, and ninety-six pounds of beef (the cow is thanks to the Mister's sister- they raised a few this year.... we hope to have our own next year). We've canned a dozen jars of bread-n-butter pickles and three dozen dill pickles.... with hopes of canning at least a dozen more of each. We also made our very first ever in the history of us batch of pasta sauce. Garlic basil pasta sauce.... made with our very own heirloom tomatoes. I now understand why you call your first batch a test batch.... our sauce is rather runny, but nothing a can of tomato paste can't fix. I made spaghetti with it last week.
It was divine.
Lu and I are planning on cooking down the next batch a bit longer so as to thicken it up without altering the amazing flavor we've concocted.

Summer is coming to a close and we're eking out every last bit of goodness... the sunsets here are amazing, family bonfires are cozy, the star gazing is sweet and the family time seems slower and fuller.
We can't complain.... actually, we continue to be in awe of it all.
I suppose that bubble will burst one day but today wasn't that day and I don't think it'll be tomorrow either.

The days are full.
This is a good life.

I'm pretty sure posting here will continue to be sporadic for a bit longer.
But you can catch me on Instagram in the in between. It's been lots easier to keep up with that this summer than this....


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