Random Thoughts

Friday afternoons are spent at our local Farmer’s Market.

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Last year we had the small table at the far end and only sold eggs and maybe a few extra veggies from our garden.

You can see we’ve expanded our ‘goods’ this year!

Last Friday we had fresh picked beets & basil, our unique Corn Cob Jelly, eggs, and CountryBoy’s awesome (if I do say so myself!) homemade Cinnamon Buns.

I did not have to work Friday morning so I got the embroidery machine humming and churning out some cute bar mop towels.  While the machine was chugging away I made some items for a local Spa Basket…

I love the stuff in the Spa Basket!  I picked up some items from a couple of the other market vendors such as Lavender Goat Milk soap and Honey & Oatmeal Goat Milk lotion both made from the milk of goats at a local farm and a jar of Citrus Body Scrub made locally; I made some Lavender Bath Salts and Lavender Linen Spray and added a dragonfly washcloth I knitted and put them all in a woven fabric basket made by me as well.  I am hoping that someone will snatch this up and fall in love with all of the products and will hopefully help grow the businesses of all the artisans of these products.

We also offer a lot of other craft items made by myself and a friend of mine so with all that our tables fill up fast with goodies.

Last Friday, we sold out of Cinnamon Buns, basil, eggs and the bar mop towels and we sold a few other goodies so, overall, it was a good day at the market.


We only sold a few beets at the market so yesterday we pickled and canned them…

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Ten half-pint jars.  I’m still deciding whether to keep these or sell them.  I do know several locals (and non-locals) that love them!  There are still lots of beets in the garden so, we’ll see (wink!).


Yesterday was also a nice warm day.  OK, it was hot.  There, I said it.  Ha!

Since it was laundry day and it was warm (OK hot!) outside I decided to hang the laundry on the line to dry…

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I enjoy doing laundry anyway but when I get to hang them on the line to dry?  I enjoy it even more!

Last night I posted a cute, old-fashioned picture on Facebook of a lady hanging clothes on the line all dressed up and in her heels.  It was cute but so far from the way I looked hanging clothes on the line – shorts, t-shirt, clothespin apron and bare feet.  I love walking around the yard in my bare feet.  Our grass is so soft and I get some good grounding time in.  Love it!  As far as heels?  I don’t even own any.  If I have to wear shoes it’s cowboy boots, flip flops or sandals for me!


And for those of you who have resisted the mindless temptation that is called Facebook (wink!) here is a photo I posted earlier today with the status ‘And so it begins…’

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We are starting to harvest bits and pieces of produce.  Each day there will be something to harvest from now until the end of summer.

We’re hoping to have a mess of okra to take to market next week and maybe some banana peppers as well and I’m hoping to keep up with it all while working two jobs.  Thankfully, CountryBoy has offered to help and learn the ‘putting up’ process which will make it a lot easier and go much quicker.


And, last but not least, is an update on the ‘cistern room’ project…

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The plumbing has been moved; insulation has been added; original clapboard siding has been put back on what will be our feature wall with recessed storage for root crops; window has been removed and barn wood-look panels have been installed; three more panels and some studs have been purchased; and we are in the process of finding a reasonable solution for covering the piece-mealed ceiling.  It’s a slow process as we try to figure out the best solutions and the best order to tackle this project so that the work is a bit easier and we don’t have to redo something because we did it too soon.  Any of you who have ever done a renovation project I know you know what I’m talking about!

Anyway, I think it will be a great addition to the farmhouse when it’s finished.

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Reclaiming the Barn, Part 2

As I headed to the barn this morning to let the chickens out I grabbed my camera and took a shot of the morning mist in the mountain across the street…

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There’s just something about a misty mountain that I love.  I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing it.

Once the coop door was open the mayhem began…

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Chickens running everywhere – to the nest boxes, out to the paddock and stopping for some scratch and feed on their way and the whole time they are chatting up a storm!

I headed back to the house for some coffee.  It was a perfect morning to have coffee on the front porch with CountryBoy.  And LizzieBelle, and Creamsicle, and Greyfus.

Speaking of Greyfus, he had a wild hair this morning and was feeling pretty good…

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This photo is deceiving as he looks calm and relaxed while hiding in the ivy but in actuality he was flicking his tail had a wild look in his eye.  Then he tore off the porch at who knows what.  Silly boy!

After our morning coffee CountryBoy whipped up a delicious farm breakfast before he headed out to the barn to start closing in the stall that will become the future chicken coop.  If you missed yesterday’s blog post about our reclaiming the barn project you can catch up HERE.

While he was gathering the necessary tools and searching for salvaged pieces to use I did some housework and got part of tonight’s supper going… black beans – my nemesis.  More on that later…

Here’s the stall we are closing in and turning into the chicken coop…

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By the time I got out to the barn CountryBoy had already finished closing in one side of the stall/coop using the wood he cut away from the equipment shed/barn and had most of the rafters set in place.  It was a good thing this project was on the agenda today as CountryBoy informed me (when I finally got out to help him) that we had lost a chicken from what looked like a predator.  Sadly, it was the girl I snapped a photo of yesterday – the frustrated girl waiting on a nest box.  We’re assuming it was a raccoon since something got into the feed cans recently.  Coons are crafty about getting into containers and they can climb anything.  We sealed the lids of the feed cans and were hoping they wouldn’t find the girls roosting in the rafters.

It seems when there are animals on the farm that not only is it our responsibility to take care of the animals but now we have taken on the job of always trying to outsmart varmints or maybe even the animals themselves.  This is our predicament at the moment.  sigh.

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Anyhow… several trips up and down the ladder with each and every board was quite tedious and painful with his bad knees.  I was able to help a little bit with sending the scrap pieces of plywood up to him to be nailed down…

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By mid afternoon all the plywood was in place and the knees were shot so it was time to quit.

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The opening will be covered with wire fencing to allow light to come in and to help with ventilation.  Although we wanted to get it done today there was just too much work left to do before it would be ready to be occupied.  Hopefully in another day or two it will be ready and we can move the gate and shoo the girls out to the paddock.  That will be a fun (or maybe interesting is a better word) night showing them into their new coop!  And, hopefully, there will be no more rafter roosting girls falling prey to a predator before we can get it done.

Now back to my nemesis… beans.  As some of you know (but most probably do not) beans and I don’t always get along.  Now, not in the way I’m SURE you’re probably thinking right now, ha!  I mean as to cooking them (grin).  I seem to have the hardest time getting dried beans to actually cook.  I always follow the directions on the package but they never cook in the time it says they should cook.  There have been times when supper has been quite late as we waited for whatever beans were on the menu to get soft.  sigh.

Well, I decided to get the beans going first thing today and if they got done before supper I would turn them off and simply reheat them.  Well, back and forth from the barn to the house checking the beans.  The allotted cooking time had come and gone and my beans STILL weren’t done.  ugh.  I decided to put a lid on them and after another hour or so they were finally showing signs of being done.  Will wonders never cease?!

I’ve been hankering for some beans and rice so that’s what we had.  I decided to do my version of a dish we used to get at TropiGrille (a restaurant in Florida we occasionally frequented) that had rice, your choice of black or red beans, your choice of grilled chicken or steak and then the toppings of your choice at the condiment bar.  We usually got diced onions and salsa.  Well, after starting the beans I discovered we didn’t have any more chicken in the freezer so it was a meatless meal.

While the rice cooked I chopped up some onions as well as what was left in the jar of jalapeño stuffed green olives (yum!) and I opened a jar of salsa I canned last summer…

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YUM!  This was actually my SECOND bowl.  I had devoured most of my first bowl before I thought to take a picture…

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It was SO good.  For me to eat TWO bowls of it you know it had to be good because I never go for seconds.  On anything.  Of course, I WAS hungry so maybe that’s why!

Reclaiming the Barn

As are the majority of barns around here ours was an old tobacco barn.

Since tobacco is not grown on the farm anymore several stalls were added in the barn as the previous owner had various animals over the years.

When we started losing chickens to a predator we decided to turn one of the enclosed stalls/rooms into the chicken coop.  You can read about it HERE.

Well, after almost two years of the chickens roaming the barn CountryBoy decided it was time to reclaim the barn for our use and for the day when we have other animals.

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See, most of the youngest girls have decided that they would rather roost way up in the rafters rather than in the coop.

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What that means is that they are unprotected from night time predators that may wander into the barn AND… while they are roosting up there they are pooping on everything down below.  Ew!  What a mess!

The plan is to enclose one of the open stalls at the back of the barn, cut a doorway in the backside of the barn that will open directly into the paddock and move the gate to the back of the barn.  This should stop the chickens from getting into the barn at all which should stop the young’uns from roosting in the rafters at night and pooping on everything down below.  sigh.

Our repurposed nest boxes are in another stall so they will have to be relocated or rebuilt in the new coop as well.

I’d love to be able to find an antique set of nest boxes but the few that I have come across have been a tad pricy for our wallets (if you know what I mean!).  Isn’t it funny how old, used, worn out, dented or chippy items are more expensive than new nowadays?!

As I was taking the above photos this girl proceeded to show me what she thought about having to wait for a nest box…

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She eventually turned around but let me know she was not happy and she didn’t appreciate me documenting her frustration by snapping a photo!

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She’s one of our youngest girls and lays beautiful green eggs.

This guy…

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ol’ FuzzyFoot, has his hands, er feet, full trying to keep up with 33 girls.  He gave up a long time ago trying to get the  young’uns to roost in the coop at night.  Poor fella!

I think reclaiming the barn is a good idea and will give us more useable space to store items we salvage for future projects and the barn will be ready for whatever future animals we add to the farm.

Another part of his reclaiming the barn project is the space next to the barn.  We were storing some old wood flooring, various barn wood, scrap wood and lots of junk.  He also kept the tractor in there during the winter months and the old mower we use for the paddock.

We decided it would make a good equipment shed but the current setup required moving one thing to get to another.  It needed to be more open and accessible to be used as an equipment shed so he cut some openings in the side…

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The center support poles also needed attention as they were rotting away…

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While I have been at work he has been working hard to replace the rotten sections, re-stacking the wood we want to keep, sorting through the junk and getting it all organized. Talk about a job!

Today he graded the ground and was able to get the tractor attachments inside before the rain started…

We will use the wood that he cut away to enclose the stall that will become the new chicken coop making for a very thrifty barn reclaiming project.  Monies spent so far?  ZERO!  Just a lotta blood, sweat and tears.  OK, a little blood, a lotta sweat and, thankfully, no tears.  Ya can’t beat that!

 

 

 

Two Walls Get a Face Lift

I’m sitting on the front porch this evening after a long, productive day.

Last night I had made up my mind to finally tackle the only two drywall walls downstairs today.  I have procrastinated long enough.  After all, three years is long enough, right?!

I dreaded getting started on them because I knew it would be a lot of work.  Lots of prep work and then several coats of paint to get good coverage.

Here’s one of the walls before I painted…

This wall is in our dining room and took most of the morning to prep.  It’s hard to tell in the photos but this wall was not appealing especially in a dining room.

There was a wallpaper border at the top of the wall that I had removed some time ago but did not take the time, then, to remove the remaining paste.  I spent a good amount of time this morning scrubbing and removing the paste and then giving the wall a thorough washing.

There were holes in the wall below the electrical box when we moved in that we repaired with new drywall.  The repair was done three years ago and the drywall was still bare!

Last, but not least, was scrubbing the baseboards and putting down some painters tape.

Here are the after photos…

It looks much the same except the hunter green baseboards are now a crisp white, the drywall patches are concealed and it just looks fresh and clean. The electrical box needs  to dry completely then I’ll paint another coat (or two) to help hide it and I am still deciding what to hang on the wall.

The other drywall wall that needed some TLC was the stair wall which is across from the fireplace.

Here’s a before photo…

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This is our winter setup.  We basically live in this spot directly in front of the fireplace during the winter months so I move our chairs here.

There is very little natural light in this area so I wanted everything to be white to help brighten the space.

I scrubbed the wall, the hunter green baseboards and the hunter green side of the stairs then painted it all.

Here is an after photo with our custom table CountryBoy purchased in Arkansas a long time ago now in front of the fireplace…

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It’s amazing what a fresh coat of white paint will do!

LizzieBelle is, apparently, not impressed and heading up the stairs to her other bed!

There are still tons of hunter green baseboard to tackle but that’s another day. or days.

After cleaning up the paint mess I walked around the farm and took a few more flower photos…

The yellow irises are beginning to open up and I just had to get another shot of the purple iris.  I have no idea what the white powder puff flowers are but they’re pretty cool.

While I was meandering, CountryBoy was raking up some fresh cut grass for the chicken coop…

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He stayed busy today working on the mower, mowing the paddock, bush hogging and tons of other stuff.  You’da thought I had the vacuum cleaner going all day.  He disappears quick when I pull that thing out of the closet, ha!  But, it was a gorgeous and perfect day to be working outside and that’s what he did.

Another few items that got a face lift today were some Ball jars that we were given some time ago.  Last summer I pulled out the fairly clean ones to sterilize and use immediately and I left the others in the box because they were really dirty and I wasn’t sure it was worth my time to clean them up…

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The other day I happened to pick a few of them up and noticed the Ball logo was that of the years 1923-1933 and from 1933-1962.  I have a good collection of blue Ball jars from those eras but was thrilled to find some clear Ball jars from those same eras.

They are currently on our bathroom counter soaking in some vinegar water with baking soda…

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Can you see the two different logos?  The middle jar does not have a line under the Ball name and is the jar from 1923-1933.  The others are from 1933-1962.  I plan on using these for cut flowers or storage.  Now to dig through the other jars and see what’s there!

 

 

A New Dress For My Vintage Treadle

Three years ago, when CountryBoy and I were walking through the farmhouse with the realtor, the seller had an old Singer treadle machine sitting on one side of the double-sided fireplace.  I fell in love with it and its reminder of times past and decided, then and there, that I wanted to decorate our farmhouse with dual-purpose items from the past.  Dual-Purpose as in both decorative and functional or decorative and sentimental.  I half-jokingly asked her if she was going to leave it!  Her reply was “maybe, if I was good”. Apparently, I was not good.  Go figure, ha!

Shortly after moving in, we started discovering where the local antique and vendor malls were and we frequented them whenever we were out and about and time permitted.  Most times we weren’t really looking for anything in particular yet at every shop I found myself looking for a vintage treadle sewing machine in decent shape.  After striking out shop after shop I asked one of the shop clerks if they ever got any in the store.  I was told that I just missed out on a couple of them and that a fella would snatch them up as quick as they came in.  No wonder I never saw any since we didn’t leave the farm very often!

Not too long after that encounter, we were in another antique and vendor mall and there they were… in a room behind the counter with a sign on it that said something along the lines of it being a workroom.  WHAAAAT?!  A workroom?  But, there are vintage sewing machines in there!

As we were peering into the room and my head was swimming with the knowledge that I have found some vintage machines but they weren’t for sale (at least not in their current state) a fella asked if he could help us.  Then it hit me – THIS was probably the fella that was snatching up all the vintage machines right before I entered any of the shop doors.  GASP!

Sure enough, he bought old sewing machines in cabinets mainly for the bases and he would repurpose them into other useful things.  Sometimes, even the machine itself would be turned into a lamp or some other decorative item.

While I’m all for repurposing items that are beyond their original function the very thought of doing such a thing to a vintage sewing machine left a pit in my stomach. Especially if the machine(s) were in good shape and still worked.  Sacrilege!

I quickly recovered and asked him about all the machines in this workroom and were any of them for sale.  He said none were for sale and then he explained how he repurposed them.  sigh.

I’m not sure whether it was the deflated look on my face or the fact that I teased him about being the one that always snatched up old machines before I could get to them but after a few minutes he had a change of heart and offered me one of the machines saying it wasn’t really the style he was looking for at the moment.  I looked at CountryBoy with my hopes up so he asked how much.  $60 bucks.  SOLD!

Here it is looking how she did when we brought her to the farmhouse…

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Isn’t the cabinet gorgeous?  We love its curves and the ornamentation on the drawers.  I couldn’t believe my luck that this was the one he didn’t want!

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And the machine?

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It was in decent shape and looked like it would function properly it was just a little dusty and grimy…

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See the original wood around the machine?  I figured one day I would get around to restoring the rest of it back to the original wood.  Three years later I haven’t done a thing with it.  sigh.

Well, after sewing my heart out earlier in the month at the annual quilt retreat I attend in Florida my sewing space has been on my mind.  It’s been needing some TLC so I figured while I was still in the sewing frame of mind I thought it was time to tackle the treadle.  I figured this would up the wow-factor of my sewing space and provide me with some inspiration every time I saw it.  Plus, this project has been one of my ‘just get it done this year’ goals!

Another source of motivation for working on it was our last snow storm where we were without power for several days.  Since then, my thoughts have been consumed with getting this machine cleaned up, something done with the cabinet and ordering the parts needed to get the machine up and running.  You know, just in case we’re ever without power again I could at least do some sewing in the light of the hurricane lamps.  (Remember my decision to decorate with dual-purpose items? Hurricane lamps (and lots of them!) and a treadle = able to do something without electricity!)

After mentioning my idea of restoring the cabinet to its original wood CountryBoy reminded me of the work involved in that process and that I would have difficulty getting all the black paint off from around the ornamentation on the drawers and from around the drawer pulls.  After closer inspection I knew he was right and it had me wondering if I really DID want to restore it back to the original wood.

At first I didn’t mind it being painted black but after looking at it in the sewing space for three years and not really being able to see it since there is no natural light source in there (making it rather dark) I thought maybe I should do something different.  Something that would showcase the beauty of it which got me to thinking (I know, right!)… why don’t I just paint it.  WHAAAT?  I know, I know.  I am the first one to want to restore something to its originality but in this case… it was already painted and as I’ve mentioned before, I could never paint original wood unless it was severely damaged, already painted or cheap wood.  So, since someone else already painted over that fine wood I figured I’d add another layer.

The last two days I spent chalk-painting and waxing my vintage treadle sewing machine cabinet and I’m really pleased with how it turned out…

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Look at the tiny drawer in the middle!  Before it was hard to see its unique shape.  I also love the simple black and white palette, how the sewing machine is featured now and the whole thing is noticeable in the space.

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I still have the lid to do.  It needs a bit of gluing and TLC and the weather has not been suitable for working on it out in the shop.

I ‘distressed’ it a tiny bit to feature the ornamentation on the drawers and tried to give it a ‘used’ look… after all, it is vintage!

 

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I also spent some time on the machine.  It had a little ‘spa day’ yesterday…

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It’s hard to see the difference but the dirt and grime are gone and the metal shines  once again.  The clear coat is mostly gone and the decals are showing wear but that’s OK.  She’s old and, as they say, just adds character!

This is a Minnesota A model treadle sewing machine and from what I’ve found in my research it was made in the very early 1900’s, probably 1910ish, and sold by Sears via their catalogue.  It was made to rival the Singer models and was mentioned as a ‘top of the line’ sewing machine.  I’m glad to have found her!

I need to find the correct bobbins and shuttle for this machine, the right needles and it needs a belt then I imagine she will purr like a kitten.  That is, if I can figure out how to sew using my feet! It will probably be a test of my coordination or maybe lack thereof, ha!

This is what I now see as I head up the stairs…

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A bit of inspiration for hanging out in my sewing/craft space whenever time permits!

The lid that still needs some TLC is leaning against a storage cabinet CountryBoy made that holds my small fabric stash behind the glass doors as well as some crochet thread, scrapbooking stuff, cross stitch patterns and who-knows-what-other-crafty-type-stuff!  The wicker basket is home to all the partial skeins of cotton yarn I’ve ever used.  Anyone know of a good scrappy project for all that yarn?!  For now I see tons of knitted dishcloths in my future, ha!

So, that’s a portion of my sewing space featuring my newly ‘dressed’ vintage treadle sewing machine.  I really like how it turned out and can’t wait until she’s got all her parts so I can learn how to use it.  You just never know when we’ll be without power again!

Till next time 🙂

 

 

 

Window Project & Ramblings

Our 100 year old farmhouse has had several additions to it over the years from evidence seen in the attic and a from few pictures we’ve received from previous owners and tenants.  The most recent one being a bedroom added over the bath and laundry room that is also not original to the ‘ol farmhouse.

Originally, there was a window over the stairwell which helped illuminate the upstairs landing as well as the stairwell.  With the addition of the bedroom, the window was removed for the obvious reason of privacy for the occupant in the bedroom.

I might’ve been OK with it except that what I saw every time I went upstairs (which is several times a day because all the bedrooms are up there as well as my sewing and craft space) well, it drove me nuts because it literally looked like a window had been removed and boarded up on one side.

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I tried making it tolerable by adding a pretty hand-painted indoor barn quilt that was given to me by a friend.  It certainly helped but it still drove me nuts.  (Short drive, I know.  And, hush up those of you who know me, ha!)

After CountryBoy demoed the well-house…

 

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yikes!!!

 

I saw the window from the front of it leaning against a tree and got the brilliant idea of putting a window back where there was originally a window.

Now, in true Dream Valley Farmstead fashion, we reuse whatever we can on whatever we’re working on so I went to work on cleaning up the well-house window…

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The whole well-house had been swallowed up by a red trumpet vine so there were bits of roots of the vine stuck to the window.  I simply sanded the window down a bit, washed it then handed it off.

Poor CountryBoy, as usual, had to figure out how to turn my vision into reality.  He pondered it briefly then went to work…

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He made quick work of the demo and set about determining where to cut into the paneling on the bedroom side…

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(Please ignore the discoloration of the walls.  We have done nothing to this room short of removing the closet where the head of the bed is and building a bed frame and headboard.  It’s on the to-do list one day!)

After some careful measuring and cutting we now had a hole in the wall and, a big mess on the floors.  Too late to change my mind now!

Before long the window was installed and the mess cleaned up…

I really like how it turned out even though it may seem kinda strange to be able to look into a bedroom from another room.  (See my sewing machine in the picture on the right?)  Since the décor of this room is our ‘ode to Florida’ and all things beachy my plan is to add working shutters in the bedroom.  They will be left open to allow the light to come through but can be closed when we have guests.  Meanwhile, until we actually tackle this room, my plan is to hang a quilt over the window if we have guests.

The stair side of the window still is not finished.  I need to get a piece of drywall next time we’re in town…

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The drywall installation will be up to me as CountryBoy would prefer to have nothing to do with drywall if at all possible.  I don’t blame him, really, as I’m not a big fan either but it’s the cheapest solution to finishing this project and finally, finishing this wall.  As you can see from the stains on the wall, I’ve done nothing to this wall either, short of removing a shelf that was over the window-less window and partially removing a wallpaper border.

I will be thrilled to have this wall finished one day but I am really enjoying the daylight that is helping lighten up my sewing and craft space as well as the stairway.  Yay!

Now for some rambling…

I have the day off so along with plans to write a blog post I decided to whip up a couple of things in the kitchen.  First up, was a batch of oil-pulling discs.

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My mouth and gums have been bothering me lately, as in feeling raw, so I decided to do something about it.  If you’ve never heard of oil-pulling then I suggest you Google it as there are much better sources out there than can explain the benefits of it far better than I could ever attempt to do so.

Anyhoo, it’s very simple to make some ready-to-use oil pulling discs by simply melting some coconut oil, letting it cool a bit and then dropping just less than a tablespoonful into the silicon candy molds.  I chose to add about ten drops of Thieves essential oil to the cooled coconut oil since the clove in this Thieves blend is beneficial for oral care.

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These silicon candy molds are awesome!  I popped out the discs and will store them in the fridge just to be sure the coconut oil doesn’t melt.  Using one a day this batch will last a little over three weeks.

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I also decided I wanted to have a hot chocolate mix on hand.  Some days and/or nights just beg for a cuppa hot cocoa!  Since I don’t like all the ingredients added to store-bought mixes I knew I needed to make my own so I checked Pinterest (what did we ever do before Google and Pinterest?!) and found a dairy-free hot chocolate mix recipe.

Why dairy free?  Well, I don’t have any powdered milk on hand nor do I usually keep it in my pantry.  We also like our hot chocolate made with whole milk rather than water so I didn’t see the need in having powdered milk already in the mix.  Thankfully, I found a recipe that didn’t call for powdered milk and I had all the ingredients in my pantry.

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I did substitute some white chocolate instead of the whole chocolate chips the recipe called for.  I also mixed all of it in my food processor, white chocolate and all, to make for a smooth and powdery mix.  I can’t wait to taste it as it smells so yummy!

Living 30 minutes from anywhere (as my brother likes to say!) it’s important to me to keep a well-stocked pantry.  I have spent the last several years learning what items are handy to have on hand and what, for us, makes a well-stocked pantry.  And, I’m not talking about having a pantry or freezer full of boxed or man-made foods (which really isn’t food but don’t get me going on that…)  It’s things like flours, sugars, home-canned veggies, coffee, tea, unsweetened cocoa, baking goods, yeast, etc.  It’s a good feeling being able to make things, even on a whim, because of my well-stocked pantry.  Yay!

And, in other news, my first column was published the week of Thanksgiving…

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Now that the stress and learning curve of my first article is done I’m excited to write some more.  I’ve had quite a few compliments to the point where I literally felt my cheeks turning red.  In fact, they’re turning red as I type this.  Mercy!  I guess that’s what happens when a shy girl that would rather be behind the scenes and definitely behind the camera is now in the spotlight.  As I often say around here, YIKES!

 

Be Our Guest

Be our guest, Be our guest, Put our service to the test
Tie your napkin ’round your neck, cherie
And we provide the rest…

Were you singing that as you read it?!

Sorry, I used to work at Walt Disney World and couldn’t resist, hahaha!

Anyhoo, our first guest room is coming along.  Two and half years later but, hey, they tell me Rome wasn’t built in a day (wink!)

We have company coming this weekend and the next so I’ve been working on it bit by bit over the past two months.  First up are my nephew and his lovely wife stopping by for a few days then CountryBoy’s folks are heading this way.  It will good to see and spend time with all of them!

So, let me show you what this room looked when we moved in…

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It certainly was bright with glow-in-the-dark stars stuck to and hanging from the ceiling!

While I do like yellow walls I usually go for more of a buttery yellow so we painted, added some wood panels to the lower part of the wall and painted the floor since I couldn’t get it to look clean and I couldn’t get the paint off.

Here’s what the room looks like today…

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We switched the fan out with the one that was in my sewing room.  Since there is no central heat or air we put a box fan in the window to bring in the cool night air during the spring, summer and fall and there’s an electric fireplace for the winter nights.

We brought the white cabinet with us and I’m using it to store extra quilts and afghans as well as a few baby quilts that are for sale when the opportunity arises to set up a table somewhere since I no longer have my Etsy store.  Which, by the way, is a long story but basically Etsy was asking their sellers to do something I was not comfortable with and since they issued an ultimatum to either comply or be suspended I chose to close my store.  Someday, somehow, I’ll have a venue to sell some stuff.  Meanwhile, they sit in this cabinet and in a plastic tote.

There’s a luggage rack for ease of getting into one’s luggage and the military trunk I refinished stores old work shirts and miscellaneous stuff.

As I was editing the photos I noticed my printer cover draped over the quilt frame.  I promptly went up there and removed it and put it on my printer which has been relocated downstairs.

The quilt top was made by my great–great-grandma on my mother’s side.  My Mom had it finished years later after it was handed down to her.  I’m using it, even though it doesn’t quite fit the bed, because I have yet to finish hand-quilting the quilt I made for this room.  sigh.  Maybe this winter I can work on it.  I’m not sure what I was thinking when I thought hand-quilting a queen-size quilt was a good idea.  Phfft!

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I’m still looking for just the right thing to go over the bed.  I’ll know it when I see it!

There’s a chair in the corner that can be used to either sit down and read or put shoes on and be used as a night stand.  In the other corner is an antique wash stand with basin and pitcher.  Since there’s no bathroom upstairs I’ve got half a mind to fill it!

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We’ve had many guests come visit over the last two and a half years and this is one of the things I’ve learned… that having their own refrigerator would be handy.

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Many travel with snacks and medication that need to be refrigerated.  When we know company is coming we stock up the kitchen fridge to the gills since we live so far from town which doesn’t leave very much room for anything extra.  My solution? a mini-fridge in their room!  There’s a container of water in there for them and plenty of room to keep whatever they brought that needs to stay chilled.

We found this awesome handmade tea-cart at one of our favorite venues in town – the Peddlers Mall.  I thought it was perfect to set the fridge on to make it easy to access.

I also thought it might be nice for our guests to have access to a bit of coffee or tea whenever they like.  Maybe they want to do some reading early in the morning before heading downstairs or after everyone’s in bed and sip a cuppa java or hot tea.

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And, maybe they will want a little snack with it…

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Fresh banana bread with some soft butter!  I got this idea from my B&B employer (wink!)  I made three mini loaves this afternoon and, of course, I had to sample it and man, was it good!  There’s another loaf in the freezer for next weekend’s company.

There are some hooks to hang a few articles of clothing as well as another convenience for our guests… a charging station for all those devices we have now-a-days!

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One too many phone cords have been left behind.  Maybe now they won’t be!

And, of course, a few books to choose from while eating banana bread and sipping something hot!

I also made a sign that welcomes our guests to the farmhouse and has our internet access information on it…

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Tomorrow I will put a couple of fresh flowers in the bottle, put some half & half in the creamer and put it in the fridge and fill the canister with coffee grounds.

We LOVE to entertain so my desire is to make our guests feel welcomed and comfortable during their stay while enjoying the beauty of the farm.  We’ll see if I’ve succeeded in doing so!

 

 

 

A Good Problem

A few years back when we were planning and building out the current pantry space we thought it would certainly be plenty big enough to store all our home-canned goods.  Especially when compared to the original pantry space that was there when we moved in!

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Yikes!  This view is looking from the bathroom into the pantry space.  The door into the pantry/laundry nook/bathroom is to the left, behind the wall beside the dryer.

Many of you have already seen the before and after but for those of you just joining us, here’s a recap… there was a corner closet with some shelves and then the tall green cabinet was there as well.  We tore the corner closet out and replaced the subfloor with thicker plywood.  (The tall green cabinet was repurposed as nest boxes for the chickens!)

We salvaged some old fence boards from the neighbors burn pile and we began putting the pantry back in order.  We chose to do an L-shaped shelving system leaving plenty of space under the first shelf to store stock pots and food-grade buckets and what have-ya’s and what-for’s!

Here’s the space today…

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This view is from the doorway.  (The corner closet would be straight ahead towards the left.)  It’s jam-packed and we’re out of room.  This is definitely a good problem because that means that we’ve had a productive garden and we have the equipment we need to put it all up for winter!

What IS all that stuff you ask?  Stock pots, pressure cooker, water bath canner, a crock full of fermenting pickles, a honey extractor, laundry basket full of potatoes, empty egg cartons, pots & pans hanging, food-grade buckets for flours and sugar, a chest freezer beside the laundry basket and, of course, the canned goods.  There are also shelves beside the egg cartons not pictured.  Those are full of dry goods such as pasta, beans and baking goods.  Below those shelves are crock-pots, a food processor and an old-fashioned ice cream maker.  It’s a mess!  And, for someone like me, that likes everything to have a place and to be in its place you know it’s driving me nuts!  Yea, yea, short-drive, I know, ha!

Here’s the real problem…

I still have lots of stuff to put up for winter… apples, tomatoes, beets, corn, lima beans and pinto beans and I’m almost out of room on my shelves!

Thankfully, the onions don’t need to go in the pantry!

We actually got a decent crop of onions this year…

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The onions in the basket will be used fresh as needed.  The onions in the bowl are in the process of being chopped, put into quart size freezer bags and froze for use in cooking.

This has been an awesome year for the garden.  Just the right amount of rain and sunshine nourishing the veggies yet still allowing us to maintain the weeds.  Well, for the most part!

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We are in the process of planning to extend the pantry to the adjacent outdoor cistern ‘room’.  This means enclosing the space from the outdoors, moving plumbing to put in a door and deciding what to do with the existing cisterns that fill with water every time it rains and the concrete floor.  We’ve got ideas and are tossing them around but, it will take us a while to decide exactly what we want and how we want the space to work.  Then, there’s the funds and supplies needed to get it done.  Maybe by this time next year we’ll have a space large enough to store all our modern-day homesteading goodies.  A good problem indeed!

Till next time you’ll see me knee-deep in apples-n-such!

 

Monday Morning Chit-Chat

I reeaally need to write blog posts more often.

There’s usually something going on ’round here all the time and by the time I get around to blogging I end up cramming a bunch of topics into one post thus, the title of this post.  Ha!

I really enjoy the whole blogging process… from coming up with the topic, to the taking and editing of the photos, to the writing… it’s a creative outlet for me.  Unfortunately, it’s only ONE of MANY creative outlets for me and, as of late, it has become a more distant outlet and pastime, if you will.

I think because the whole blogging process takes me a while I tend to put it off until I have a good chunk of time.  But, since I really do enjoy blogging I am going to make a concerted effort to start incorporating it into my days more often than not!

Speaking of days, about a week ago I started working outside the home again.  WHAT?!  I know!  It’s quite an unbelievable story but let me tell you how it all came about…

As any homesteader knows, creating a self-sufficient homestead can be quite costly these days.  There’s farm equipment such as a hay rake and baler to purchase so that we can harvest our own hay from the lower field for use in the chicken coop or any other farm animals we have in the future; there’s maintenance and fuel for tractors and mowers; there’s plows and tillers to be purchased to make gardening a bit easier as we creep on up in years; a sickle mower is on our wish list so we can keep the creek banks cleared; then there’s a 100 year old farm house that is in need of external repair and siding as well as adding a half bath upstairs for the sake of convenience and renovating the downstairs bath; feed for the chickens; bee equipment; just to name a few things.

With a limited income we were starting to feel the squeeze.  We don’t enjoy being squeezed so tightly so I started praying for a part time job to work alongside my essential oil business.  I spread the word among church members and asked them to keep their ears open for any job openings preferably in a mom-n-pop type business but, in the back of mind, I really wanted to work at a local B&B that holds a special place in our hearts.

See, when we drove from Texas (where we were working at the time) to look at the farm the realtor took us and the seller to lunch at this beautiful B&B six miles down the road (probably two as the crow flies!) and it was there, standing in the parking lot, where our offer was accepted and we shook hands with the seller.  It was totally awesome!

So, I thought if I have to work outside the home to earn a little extra money to put towards some of the things we need then it would be awesome if I could work at the local B&B that, not only holds a special place in our hearts, but is also a place that I have come to respect and, in some ways, can relate to.  How’s that, you ask?  Well, the owner had a dream.  A dream where people could come to their little piece of paradise nestled in the mountains, and rest, relax and rejuvenate.  This dream took a lot of work, perseverance, and some help from family and friends to become a reality.  This dream is now a bustling business and has earned the respect and appreciation of all who enter. Dreams can come true just like owning a farm, Dream Valley Farmstead, was a dream of ours!

Well, the weeks went by and still no job.  I did not want to settle for any job so I kept praying and waited.

I revisited our budget and tightened it up some more.

To bring in a few extra dollars we faithfully set up at our local farmer’s market and continued to sell out of eggs.  We even added some extra produce we had and some of my Jewelweed & Plantain Salve.

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It was at the farmer’s market where I chatted with a fellow vendor and beekeeper the entire three hours!  We talked bees, gardening, Laughlin, Nevada, old farmhouses and tons of other topics, ha!  Towards the end of the market she asked me if, by any chance, I was looking for a part-time job.  I said YES but had no idea what she was about to say.

Come to find out, she knew the owner of the aforementioned B&B and said they were looking for help.  Wait, WHAT?!  Needless to say, I called that evening when we got home and long story short, I started the next morning!

 

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Image snagged from Snug Hollow Farm Facebook page

 

I’ve worked several days doing all sorts of tasks… from cleaning the cabins, to food prep, to plating food, to serving food, to kitchen clean-up, to ironing linens and sheets and it has been a blast!  It is non-stop work and my feet and back are not happy with me by the end of the day but my co-workers are amazing and so very patient with me as I have a lot to learn about the hospitality industry.  I guess that’s another one I can add to my varied list of jobs but talking to the guests and seeing them enjoy their experience at the B&B is so rewarding.  I feel honored and privileged for the opportunity to help keep the owners dream alive and to try and maintain the high standard of service that has been set.  They keep calling me to come in so I guess I’m doing OK!

Back at the farm, CountryBoy has harvested quite a few pinto beans…

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Aren’t they gorgeous?  I just think they are some of the prettiest beans.  I will be canning these in pint jars which can, then, be easily added to soups or chili.  For now, they simply get washed and then put in the freezer until all are harvested.

The grapes are finally turning…

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I can’t wait to have enough Concord grapes to make some jam.  Maybe next year!

The watermelons are making their appearance…

Y’all already know that we’ve been harvesting cucumbers like crazy!  So far, I’ve made and canned Bread & Butter pickles, Sweet Icicle Pickles, Cucumber Relish, and now I’ve got Deli Dills in the crock.  These will ferment for about three weeks.  We’ll see how it goes!  They already smell good – garlic, dill, pickling spices, mmmm!

If y’all are following us on Facebook then you know that I ‘saw a butterfly’ this morning (literally!) and got distracted doing other stuff (like scrubbing the porch table and grill, and hanging a whirli-gig!) all before doing what I had originally stepped outside to do.  One thing leads to another – story of my life!

Here’s that butterfly…

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sneaking a drink from the hummingbird feeder.  Speaking of hummingbirds, they were impatiently waiting for this ‘thing’ to get off their feeder, ha!

Also, before I made it to my photo destination this image caught my eye…

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It makes me want to pour some iced coffee and head outside to sit here and read a book and soak up the beautiful weather we’ve been fortunate to have.  You’ll probably find me there this afternoon!

Meanwhile, THIS is what I had originally stepped outside to get photos of, the greenhouse/porch wall…

More progress has been made!  CountryBoy used salvaged 2×4’s from an old pole shed for the studs; he stuffed insulation that was given to us in between the studs and then he covered it up with salvaged 1/4″ plywood from the old porch ceiling.  So far, I’m liking the cost of this project!

Can you believe those vertical boards were once the original interior walls?  It stills blows my mind!  If you want to read more about box-frame houses you can read about it HERE.

He was also able to straighten the wall up quite a bit both horizontally and vertically.  We feel much better about the structural integrity of that wall now and it will be nice to have another insulated wall in the house.  It should help keep the downstairs warmer during the winter which should also help us conserve the wood we burn in the fireplace.

There’s still the other half of that wall to do but now we’re dealing with the electrical panel and there may or may not be a door put in that goes into the mudroom.  The jury is still out on that but I think it’s an excellent idea making it easy to go snip a few herbs for the meal!

That’s about it for today’s chit-chat.  I don’t have to work today so I’m going to head upstairs and do some sewing – another creative outlet for me – and then look for me out on the porch!

 

 

 

 

Farm Life Musings

What I love about life on a fixer-upper farm is that no two days are alike.

I have always loved variety.  From whatever job I had outside the home to crafts the more variety involved the more I enjoyed it.

We are only half-way through the day and here are just a few things that have taken place…

CountryBoy and I worked on underpinning the front porch this morning.

We used some old, original metal roofing from the farmhouse that we found in the barn and began custom-cutting each piece to fit the uneven ground.

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We had to use the backside of the metal because there was black tar on the other side.

I love it!  It’s kinda rough looking right now but with the addition of some plants and the finishing touches on the porch it’s going to look awesome!

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The BEST part about the under-pinning?  It will keep the cats from using that area as a toilet.  Peeeeuuuu!

We’ve also come up with a solution for this wall.

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Say Hi to Creamsicle posing on the concrete step!

It’s going to take some work but at least we have a plan now.  I know.  What a mess!  But, we are going to add some structural support which means we can also add some insulation.

Tonight is our monthly business meeting and potluck at church.  I had no idea what to bring so I am making a favorite of many that attend – soup beans.  I had never heard of soup beans before moving here.  Of course, I’ve heard of bean soup, you know, with navy beans and ham or a 9 or 15 bean soup but not soup beans which is really nothing but pinto beans ’round here.  I found a recipe online from an Eastern Kentucky gal so it oughta be pretty close to the way the locals make it.  At least I hope it is!  (Trying to get an actual recipe from anyone, phhhttt!  It’s a pinch of this or some of that but an actual recipe?  Fah-getta ’bout it!)

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The secret ingredient?  Bacon grease!  And, thankfully, a farm kitchen always has a jar of bacon grease!

Later on I’ll make some cornbread to go with it and maybe even some sugar cookies.  I love having a well-stocked pantry for occasions like this especially since town is thirty minutes away.  (Just ask my brother about that, ha!)

I checked on my bees since I knew they would need some water.

There was lots of action in and out of the entrance.

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I tried to get a shot of the bees coming back with huge pollen sacks on their legs but they were too fast and my camera is having issues.  Seeing those bees so active and bringing the pollen back is a good sign of a healthy and productive hive.  Maybe I’ll get a bit of honey this year!

While I was checking on the bees I took in the beauty of the blooming irises.

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These are near one of the garden entrances by the grapevine arbor.

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The purple and yellow irises are so pretty together.

Speaking of grapes, I’m hoping for a few clusters this year.

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One of the grapevines shows a lot of promise with lots of teeny tiny grape clusters on it.  The second grapevine has a few but not near as many as this one.

I am purposefully walking to the mailbox each day for a bit of exercise.  (If you read my last post then you know how much I loathe exercise, ha!)  On my way back, I stopped at the barn to check on the girls’ egg-laying progress and FuzzyFoot posed for the camera so I obliged!

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Such a handsome and good rooster!  And, it looks like we’ll have a dozen or more eggs today.

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My days can quickly fill up with all things farm-related but I am conscientiously making time in the afternoons and/or evenings to work on business ventures such as my Etsy shop and oily care packages for my Young Living team members.

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Each day is a different scenario, a different set of tasks but all too soon the day is gone and it’s time to lock the chickens up for the night.

Life on the farm.  I love it!