Sunday, December 19, 2010

I got this....

not really. When the seasons transition from one to another, it sorta jumbles everything up and I don't juggle well. I've been having company, having and attnding little Christmas party get-togethers and not doing anything crafty or creative and I'm getting kinda cranky about that.

Christmas is in one week, I have no camera and you know what? I'm OK with all of the above. I really am. I'm pretty sure Alzheimer's won't set in for at least 20 years so I'm good with collecting all the bits of memories this year in my head. It's been a pretty good year overall, Thank God.

Eddie is asking more and more questions about Santa and it's pretty cute. We Googled images of the North Pole last night and he enjoyed looking at the pictures. Today he wants me to find a movie of Santa and Rudolph and as it's still in the low thirties outside, I might as well give in.

Ed is outside building something and it's about time to go feed lunch in the barn. Old man winter has arrived, the chickens are laying eggs - we're getting five to eight a day - the steers are getting bigger, albeit slowly, and the horses are faring pretty well, considering Spencer's last bout with a bit of colic.

With a heart full of love and a wee bit of holiday cheer,

may we bid you, from our house to yours,

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I need a wha ??

FEIN, LLC, LLP, Sole Proprietorship, Business Plans, Sales and Use Tax, and since we're on the subject of Taxes we might as well throw in the IRS! How about and EIN? SSID?

It's almost here, this "starting a business" deal. It's oh-so-much-easier spoken about than actually starting the first thing on the list. That's because it's unclear what the first "thing" is!

When approaching my husband with the idea of writing an actual business plan he says, "the plan is, buy stuff, grow stuff, raise stuff, and sell it." Agreed. Because he's actually up with the chickens, I can't complain too loudly. Sometimes, however, I get a little stuck on the fine print and need a break.

Since life is what happens while we're making other plans, I'm a little behind on the official stuff and will be catching up here in the next few weeks.

I just had to rant a bit about how a great idea can get the fluff taken out of it when one looks at the hard knock requirements of business. If only it were so easy as Captain Strong Arms makes it out to be.

If you need me, I'll be over here, in this mound of governmental bureaucratic paperwork with fine print as far as the almost-forty-year-old eye can see. Ahem.

Life is still good.

Friday, October 22, 2010

There is nothing

like being sick to make you ever-grateful for all the "stuff" that needs to get done.

Today, I'm grateful that I have the energy to DO some of it! I'll reflect back on this the next time I come close to complaining about having "too much stuff to do".

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

more things that seems wrong

Looks serene. Ideal. Fishing with mom and dad at the lake.

Nice Sign.

Read closer.

This got me thinking about what we put in our waterways, collectively, as a human society. I've long thought that things our ancestors did before they knew better set the stage for earth-damage and we've furthered it with our quest for bigger, better, faster cultural ideals.

Over the weekend of September 17 & 18, 2010 we visited the quaint little town of Badin, NC for their "Best of Badin Festival" and had a blast. One of the unexpected highlights was the tour of the Narrows Dam which I enjoyed the most. I can get cotton candy, home-made peach ice cream and most of the other stuff at any other given festival, but what I cannot get but once a year is a tour of the dam.

Have a go at this document, the watershed locations are extraordinary. North Carolina is bursting at the seams with small streams and waterway. Which leads me to a close-to-home thought; we have a well. A beloved, never-gone-dry well. A well that we drink from, bathe in, and use water to cook with.

That said, what got me thinking about all this was the fact that this lake we were fishing at is downstream from this dam - this hydroelectric power plant - owned by ALCOA . And here is another fascinating and informative piece from Wikipedia about Alcoa . Of primary interest to me is the part where it talks about the levels of PCB's in the groundwater because of "improper management".

I know I'm throwing a lot of links in here, but in order to fully understand what I'm talking about I think it's important to have a sort of "show and tell" where I tell and you show yourself by clicking on the links.

Speaking of which, here's another great article about Badin, wherein it talks about the origin of the power plant and the history of the town. Plus, it's got a great photograph of the dam, which having seen it myself, does not do it justice at all.

Speaking of justice, here's another great article from nearly a year ago. A lot of interesting points.

All this to say, I won't be eating any fish out of Badin Lake, or any other river, lake, stream or watershed around here. And at some soon point, am going to have our well tested.

when I'm sick

I like to do stuff that isn't strenuous. Since during my mom's recent visit from California she taught me to crochet "rag rugs" I've been picking up flat sheets from thrift stores and making rugs. I gave one to a girlfriend as a gift at her most recent baby shower and she said she really liked it. I'm hoping to make some more and put them up for sale. Problem is, I want to keep them all!

When I start doing crafty stuff, I like to browse for inspiration. When a friend of mine posted her link on Face Book I ended up here.

I really enjoy seeing what others create and where their inspiration comes from. When I saw that Paige was only 14 I was not only impressed but slightly jealous! I didn't get the creative bug until I had a home of my own and my son was not so time-consuming. So in other words, the last couple years I've been trying new things, from canning and preserving to crocheting and attempting my first quilt.

Anyhow, I entered her giveaway and my favorite item from The Pretty Poppy are the Chrysanthemum earrings! So cute! I like the turquoise ones as they would go with that cute dress I wore to the baby shower on Saturday (I even dusted off the high heels!!).

When I get one of the three cameras in this house up and running (one needs a special battery, the other needs a new memory card and the third needs a lobotomy, but we all need something, right?) I'll snap a few pics of these fun rag rugs I've been making.

Stay well friends!

Monday, October 11, 2010

computer up, camera down

For whatever reason, because I've been busy with company, and other stuff too, I have not taken the time to post on this blog. Part of that reason, I've justified to myself, is that my camera quit working right after I got back online with a computer. I have none of my collection of photos on this computer. Because of that, I feel uninspired to blog. Not that I can't write without a photograph, but when my mind goes blank, it helps to stir up a feeling, and then a post commences.

It's Monday. The air is crisp and I can feel the change of the season in the air and in my toes. (they're a wee bit cold) When I look outside I see the subtle changes in the colors of the leaves. I see the extra fuzz coming onto the horses' coats. And the waning of the flowers in the gardens. Most things still flowering are going to seed. And there is this overwhelming desire to grab my camera and capture it all but, alas, I cannot.

It was hot enough this summer to delay my complaints of cold until at LEAST November. Although my vegetable garden suffered for the heat this year, I do feel as though every year gets better and better around here. I learn something new on an almost daily basis. Like how high heat, humidity and irregular watering can make for the most bitter cucumber you've ever tasted. Not even the hogs will eat them. They typically eat everything except for citrus rinds. As we give them all of our scraps (except meat) they have come to love the leavings in the garden. I've also learned not to throw the seeds and trimmings from hot peppers in the pig slop. Poor things, that lesson was a one-time event.

I did some transplanting of Chrysanthemums, red Salvia, Hollyhocks and Periwinkle this morning and now I'm going to make use of the pine straw that Captain Strong Arms is gathering for me. I'm enjoying this bit of sunshine today, with a high of nearly 90* well into October and am now going to burn some memories onto my own personal memory card; my brain. Camera or no, I'll remember this fall with fondness. And I'll just have to work a bit harder at jogging my post-generating senses sans photographs.

It's beautiful out there, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

on un-schooling *

Since sending my boy to Pre-School (Pre-K) last school year (2009-2010) I have fought the internal "mommy-instinct" to keep him home. I kept him in Pre-K because "he needed the socialization" and because "that's what you're supposed to do" and possibly because I thought I needed it (the time, sans child, that is).

*I started this post a long while ago (September 27th'ish) and because I am an unknown variety of field-mouse, I have no idea where I was headed with this post, but because I often bounce around from field to field, I came across this draft unfinished. Unfinished...hmmm, if I were to ever change the name of my farm....ahem. Where was I?

Ah, yes, un-schooling.

We sent him to Kindergarten in August of 2010. Cutest darn kid I've ever seen get on the bus at 6:20am, in the dark, to ride for an hour and a half, then wait on the bus, while the other kids finish breakfast, because I don't want him to eat the school slop, er, I mean, food.

WHAT?! 6:20am ? Dark? Hour and a half? School food?

His teachers were great. His classroom was bright and colorful and organized. The school and it's administrators are great. Even the receptionist is great (and has a covetable wardrobe, with the style to pull it all off!).

Our little man came home with a rubric for his day. Smiley face = good day. 1 = okay day, but needs to work on sitting still and following directions. 2 = not a good day. 3. bad day, not listening at all. 4. horrible day, the parents will be getting a phone call. I don't think he ever got a smiley face in the two or three weeks he was a "Kindergartner." He came home devastated, not understanding the combined concept of sitting still, listening and trying to ignore the wild and unruly classmates of his in between lunch, bathroom breaks and what little outdoor recess time they had (from 8:05am until 2:25pm).

I don't know many adults that can "do good" in that setting with such a schedule. Then throw in an hour and a half bus ride home.

He's five. FIVE. Fu-Iv-eh.

He should be playing with sticks and digging in the mud and following his dad around stealing his tools.

We decided to un-school him. "Oh, are you homeschooling him?" people politely inquire, as they peer down their nose at me, just a bit wary of my seemingly lackadaisical certainty. "No, not really." I say.

Then I think to myself, "maybe next year, I'll homeschool him". Then it dawns on me, it's THIS YEAR! I have 8 months, whoops, it's February 2011 already, 7 months to get ready to "do this".

Un-schooling. I can do this. He can learn to read. We'll get the math straight. If I can re-school (my own pet name for returning to college after nearly 20 years) then we can un-school here at home.

Now, what can a field mouse eat so that it stays focused?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

'Cause we're reunited, hey, hey

I hope, like me, that you now have that song in your head. It's all good. I'm up for some dumb totally important and productive reason at 1:45am and don't know what else to write. So, I stick a song to your head. Like it. Or not.

Actually, when I was younger ( a couple decades days ago) I used to adore that song and also Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good". For some reason I thought of potatoes when I heard that song. As if she were sorting them.....bad ones here, good ones there. Anyhow.

One time, while I was in a hair salon with my mom - there were ladies in all the chairs getting various things (frosting!) done to their hair and the song "Another one bites the dust" came on. I wondered how many of those ladies were going to lie to their hairdresser that day.... "Oh Janet, it's lovely, yes, yes, I DO LIKE IT, really!" Ahem. That alone makes me not want to get my license in Cosmetology. That, and I don't like to wash other peoples hair.

In addition to songs that take me back to yesteryear, smells do that too. There's something about too-ripe pears and concord grapes that remind me of a couple relatives I spent some childhood time with. Or, maybe it just reminds me of fall. Speaking of which, what IS the difference between Autumn and Fall? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Now that I've completely gone off on at least two tangents what I really came here to say is; I'm BACK ONLINE!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


After nearly five years of togetherness, my computer and I have separated. Not by my choice, of course. Either the hard drive or the processor has forced this break up. Although the withdrawals have not been nearly as bad as expected, I sure miss being able to pour out, or soak up, as it were. Hopefully I'll be back soon. I miss everyone!

signed affectionately,


Saturday, August 21, 2010

on richer or poorer, or less is more and trading down

About a week or so month ago, a well respected friend referenced me in her blog post.  And then, when she wrote about this it inspired me to write a brief synopsis about my 'less-is-more' story.

Oh who am I kidding?  I'm not sure there is the possibility of a synopsis of any of my stories.  I seem to have a story for everything.  That said, I can sum it up with a few paragraphs, I think.

Let's start with the topic of laundry.  I just came across a cute sign;

So on that note, I'd like to say that that sign applies, but it does not.  I am the sole laundress around here.  We use a clothesline as a dryer from March to November and I kinda like it that way.  In the winter, I try to dry most of our laundry on a rack in front of a massive heat exchanger.

Since we moved here, we've had our fair share of barely-there appliances.  From a herky-jerky washing machine so plugged it just streamed out a spit bath for a wash to the built-in stove/oven combo we used as a stand-alone unit (on wood blocks).  We've made-do, re-used, recycled, begged requested politely, borrowed and stolen (fair-and-square, like out of the trash) items that other people no longer wanted.  

Heres a short list:
  • Red Flyer Wagon
  • Toddlers Trike
  • Fencing
  • Who Knows What Else

My husband (Captain Strong Arms) has been through three chainsaws, three riding lawn mowers, two push mowers, and a few other things I don't even know the names of, all of them hand-me-downs.  He's slightly hugely more able to adapt without cussing than I am.   There were times when I pined to rename the farm "Twice and Again Farms" because with half working things it seemed like everything had to be done twice.

It has put a nice spin of humility on my inner and outer layers of being.  Without bragging, (those of you who know me, know the story behind this) I want to tell you that I went from driving a 2005 BMW 530i to a 1985 Dodge Ram Charger - then a 1992 Dodge Caravan and now to my 1999 Nissan Quest - yes folks, I'm  moving on up.  Captain Strong Arms went from a 2002 VW GTI 337 Edition to a 1982 GMC Sierra One Ton.  A brand new home to a 120 year old home.  A freeway to a country road.  A city girl to a country girl.  On the city girl thing;  I was born in the Inland Empire in Southern California - although I have always loved horses and riding and did that most of my life, I have to admit, I was really a city girl.  Used to all the at-your-finger-tips conveniences of living within city limits.

I must say that we've been very blessed.  People have given a lot of stuff to us.  And in return, I've been able to bless others by giving stuff to them.  It really has come full circle.  When I look around my home and property, I sigh a huge sigh of contented relief that my heart is often so full it overflows.  So to all of those who have given; a smile, a hug and a sincere thank you is in order.  Besides, I'm glad not to have that BMW car payment to go along with that car.  

While we had lots of new stuff, we let go of it when we left California and moved here to North Carolina, and although there have been times of great struggle, I wouldn't trade it for bigger, better, faster any day of the week.  

Let's not forget my little boy.  This is the best environment I can think of to raise my son.  It isn't for everybody, and I don't hold it against anyone who doesn't want to live like this, but it is for us.  Less really is more.  If I can make it through richer or poorer, most anyone can.  And trading down was the best thing I ever did.  

Grateful, Grateful, and Grateful.

Another cute sign I got a giggle from....

p.s. if Captain Strong Arms wasn't Mr. FixIt, we would never be where we are today.  And if I didn't do his laundry, he wouldn't be where he is today would be naked!

just for fun

From the summer of 2007 - Eddie had just turned two!

Turkey Tales

Once upon a time, there were three white production turkeys.  We found them via FreeCycle, an invaluable tool for frugal folk, picked them up and brought them home.

So cute and fluffy - or - as I like to say, "so ugly he's cute".  These are the turkeys raised akin to the Cornish Cross chickens, like the one I rescued. They have been bred to grow quickly and basically grow so large and awkward that they cannot reproduce on their own.

When we first brought them home they were about one year old.  They followed us around like dogs having been raised by a young girl for a 4-H project.  Her mom promised her that they would not slaughter any 4-H project and so this is why they were FreeCycled.  p.s. they eat a lot.  I mean, a LOT!

The turkeys seemed to like living here at Hope Farms.  They were all the rage with the neighbors.  Well, except for one neighbor who came visiting and got chased over the fence feathers flapping, feet a flying and needless to say, her feathers were a bit, er, ruffled.

Unfortunately, one of the turkeys attacked a dear friends daughter and scratched her back, so we had to give him away.  This was of course after we ate the first one for Thanksgiving.  It was the best turkey I've EVER tasted.  Thank You God for this food.  Thank you turkey for giving us food.  Amen.

And then, the last one attacked dear husband!  So we ate him for Christmas!  

Sunday, August 15, 2010

pantyhose, a good jelly bag does not make

We picked, for the very first time in over three years, our Concord grapes the other day.  I cooked them in my slow cooker, crushing them gently and put them through my food mill and then strained the juice and let it sit for 24 hours.  Then, I poured the juice through one leg of some panty-hose I will miss never ever wear to keep the crystals that formed from going into the jelly and making it either a.)  not set up properly or b.)  look ugly unsightly.

In keeping with the reality of farmhouse living, I present to you, in true Pioneer Woman style, a couple "Keepin' it real" pictures of why I titled this post as I did.

I did get it off the wall, but it stained.  Thank goodness for good 'ole Clorox Bleach.  The evidence is gone.

things that seem wrong

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

wordless wednesday

monday blahs

I admit it.  Today I have only done what has to be done.  I ran some errands, took K, the neighbor girl to the dentist, rescued a chicken that had fallen off of a chicken truck.  You know, everyday farmhousewife stuff and then I came home to sit in the air conditioning and read the entire book "Louder Than Words" by Jenny McCarthy.  Then  I painted my nails with a color by Orly called 'Catch The Bouquet' (whatever!) - which must be discontinued because I did not find it on their website - however, because I only paid one dollar for it, I'm happy.

And now, I'm blogging!  

About that chicken.  When K and I were coming home from the dentist - I saw a chicken truck traveling our route home.  I wondered aloud, "maybe a chicken will fall off the truck" - since my husband has told me that it does indeed happen.  I never expected to come up on a chicken in the road, but I did.

You can imagine what I did.  I kept driving right on by stopped the mommyvan and pulled over, parking and turning on the hazard lights.  I listened for trucks and went across the road to get this poor (huge!) chicken, or,  Rooster I think.  He did not know what to do.  It was like watching a child that's never seen dirt before walk on a dirt road.  I picked him up and looked for major injuries - he was bleeding in a couple places but not bad so I put him in the back of the mommyvan.  I even turned the rear a/c on for him.  SUCH a bleeding heart, I know.

K was screeching at this point, "I can't believe you're putting that thing in the car - I'll drive if you want to hold him".  haha!  poor thing.  Not only did she have to go to the dentist today, AND pick up a chicken - but it's her birthday - and the 16th at that!  Happy Birthday Special K!

I wanted to call him Foghorn Leghorn but husband wants to call him RoadRash.  Either one works.

He really did fall off the truck.  Poor guy.

About that book - I highly recommend it - touched by Autism or not.  I had a lump in my throat by page 6 and couldn't put it down.  Disclaimer:  if you can't handle a few cuss words - don't pick it up.  It is, afterall, written by Jenny McCarthy, people.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

salsa un-recipe

into the hot jars now

after the mixing and cooking

this is the first time I have canned salsa
it smells really good, too

So after canning for what felt like days on end last summer, during this winter, we realized that one of the things we often eat and didn't can was salsa!  With a good supply of tomatoes, I decided to make salsa.  I made a sort of "un-recipe" I call it, because I followed no particular recipe and can't remember what I did, exactly....  Then I further complicated the un-recipe by making another batch and not remember what I put into that!  (except more cilantro, less sugar and more crushed pepper)

But, here's how it all went down:

roasted tomatillos
roasted bell peppers
roasted jalapeƱos
roasted garlic
lime/lemon juice
chili powder
crushed pepper

And then it went down on a tortilla chip.  


Sunday, August 1, 2010

go ahead, look back five years

Taken almost five years ago.  My, how things have changed.  I would never imagined I'd be where I'm at today and I wouldn't change it for anything.  

Saturday, July 31, 2010

more Before and After

July 2007

This was an addition built in the 40's.

It had some major issues.  Like, no floor.

Story was that they built it for the Health Department to use.  For Polio Vaccinations.

What a Mess.

Captain Strong Arms AKA:  Mr. Fix-It

The project stalled for about a year.  Other things were pressing.  Like, heat and hot water.

So in August of 2008 we got started on it again.

These chairs, compliments of 1970's, we primed and painted.

The monster couch is next.  See the nice window where the 1960's air conditioner was?

The "floor" of this porch is from the ceiling of a house in Exway.  Way to recycle, huh.

We use a lot of primer around here.

Primed and painted barn red....

Almost finished with the red.

And this concludes the do-over of the north east corner of the house.

And now for the roof.
To Be Continued.....

What is this leisure time of which you speak?

my grateful button