Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflection for the New Year

I was so taken by this scene at the Loyola Marymount campus this fall

As the morning progresses my mind is swirling. I've been in Kansas with family for the last several days and pondered writing several times, but to no avail. I've been reflective, yet a bit lazy in the computer sense. Only catching glimpses of what is going on in the world through my iPhone.

I've spent a few moments this morning catching up with the wonderful blog rolls that I follow and find peace and inspiration in everyone's reflections. This year has brought us many gifts and heart wrenching challenges. This decade has done the same. A decade of turbulence and over-indulgence as well as one of technological progress and waxing self-consciousness for the world. A decade that brought us our beautiful children, a new home and business, deepened our family roots, and we've discovered beautiful and kindred friends.

I always approach the new year as a clean slate. Time to put the challenges of the past behind and reach with new vigor for the goals of the future. Our life's adventure has been rewarding. We always seem to bite off more than we can chew and relish every tasty morsel. It isn't always easy, but I must say it's never boring. Always discussing and dreaming. Some of the best nights are the sleepless ones spent in symbiotic reflection and planning. I've learned that finding balance and patience with the process are among the biggest challenges, but there is some fun in finding ourselves through that as well. I wish everyone a Happy New Year filled with peace, love and the road less traveled by.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Iambic What?

Have you ever taken a moment to,
quietly listen to a soft snow fall?
On this day preparing for holiday,
remember to be thankful for blessings
that behold us each and everyday.

As we prepare with love and family,
I look to the coming year hopefully.
And store the past year in the recess of
my mind, to call upon its grand lessons
divine. And in this crazy prose I write,
I wish you all a joyous eve tonight.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter fest Hodgepodge

Brian's cousin Amy and her family were in town today. We headed downtown to see the snow-sculptures that were the anchor for this weekends Winter fest. The above were our favorites the first is 'feed me Seymour' and the second is 'first date.' It was a lot of fun to spend a couple of hours with family in the snow.

By the way, all of the kids were playing on the snow hill, you can tell we haven't had much of the white stuff here for them to get sick of, yet ;) Mr. & Mrs. Claus and the reindeer were all in attendance. I had to add this photo, because I was simply fascinated by the reindeer's feet, crazy hugh? (the feet, not me ;) All in all a great way to start the holiday week!

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Treats

Kolachky's are an old family favorite that has a wonderful cream cheese cookie stuffed with yummy jams.

Today was the day, cookie baking. As I write this, the kids are thrilled to be decorating delicious ginger bread men (I finally found an awesome recipe that tastes great, like a crisper version of the wonderful gingerbread I've been making all fall).

I got my doughs ready this morning and then baked this afternoon, once they'd chilled sufficiently. I did two vastly different cookies and it never ceases to amaze me how simple cookies are. They all virtually have the same base and all you need to do is add a pinch of this here or there and viola. I'm about 8 dozen in and think I'll do one more batch tomorrow. The house is filled with such wonderful warm holiday smells. I think Santa will be pleased with this years treat!

Kolachky Cookies
1/2 Cup Butter
1-3 oz. Cream Cheese
1 Cup sifted All-Purpose Flour
Strawberry or Raspberry Jam
Powdered Sugar

Cream butter and cheese together. Gradually work in flour. Chill. Roll out paper thin on floured board. Cut with 2 inch round cutter. Spread with; jam. Fold 2 edges to center, overlapping slightly. Press down lightly so cookies won't spread too much. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. While warm, sift powdered sugar on top.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Precious

Ok. That I'm naming this post this creeps my husband out, but in the wee hours of the morning, it is what came to mind. I bolted awake at 2 am after some portion of my subconscious decided that I needed to check my finger. What did I find? My wedding ring was gone! I never take it off, well I take that back, I only take it off to put lotion on my hands. As you can see from the picture above, this ring is the natural enemy of lotion. So I must have been very tired last night. I sat in bed and put lotion on my hands and I must have fallen immediately asleep.

I couldn't find it when I bolted up and Brian said (in a very sleepy voice) don't worry, we'll tear the bed apart in the morning. To which my mind spent the night actively searching. Then I started with the picture in my head of 'The Precious' and since I do not want to picture myself as creepy Smeagol, I looked more to the heroic Bilbo in The Hobbit to console myself.

What if the ring fell out of bed and Garp (our cat, named after another favorite read of mine) got a hold of it? Jeez, more anxiety. All while our dog Puck (do you see a trend in my pet names??) snored peacefully at my feet.

It was found by the light of day beneath all of the covers and under where Puck laid. Thank goodness for that, My Precious and I will rest easy today :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Little Milestones

Street Performers in Chicago, though the picture is not horribly clear you can sense their speed and energy. I've always had a love for street artists!

Today I'm taking a moment to look back a bit on the last 8 months. You see, it was 8 months ago that I had the idea to keep track of all of our gardening hoopla by blogging about it. From there, this whole blogging thing has taken on a life of it's own and this is my 100th post!

I guess I'm the same type of writer that I am conversationalist. I'm not afraid to talk or offer my opinion, but I've never been good at just coming up with things and filling the space. I engage easily and it's similar with my writing. I've always enjoyed writing, but just can't sit down and do it. For me, I'll be going about my business and suddenly a phrase or thought will come to mind. Then it begins flowing into words in such a fast stream, that I wish I could dam it up if only for a minute to catch my breath. If I don't quickly get this rush of words written down, I seem to lose the eloquence of the speech I just witnessed in my head. Then poof I'm left only with impressions. I guess my brain enjoys the distraction of multi-tasking in order for me to create.

So this post is a cork pop and champagne sip for the little milestone of 100 posts, and my journey through the rabbit whole into the wonderful world of blogging. In this world I've found many wonderful souls, who by journalizing their thoughts and feelings with both words and beautiful photography, have introduced me to a new community of creative thought.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Elephant in My Room

Outside the Chicago Tribune Building, December 2009

This is a post a long time coming. I feel like I'm in a constant quest of good versus evil. The whole fabric of our lifestyle is to buy local, support local. We are local. We are small business owners, small scale home farmers wanting to be so much more, and find a way to contribute to CSA. We want the best of all worlds and are in a constant struggle against the forces to find our balance.

I'm thinking about this especially now as I've had a situation that I abhor, and please don't think less of me for writing my weakness here. The year end, slow season for our business is always difficult, but always doable. It's just ever so more difficult having had two mortgages for going on 3 years.

Now, I have taken huge steps to do many, many handmade gifts for the holidays, there is still some, ahem, Santa purchases that must be made. So I look to my credit card rewards to get gift cards for our holiday shopping. Now I'm going to say it, please don't leave my blog forever for doing so. The best value for my points this year wasn't in Visa, but specific retailer cards. Yes, I'm ashamed to say I got the best value with half of my points through Wal-Mart. ((sigh)) But I really want to be sure my kids have a great Christmas and needed the most bang for my buck. So I bit the bullet and did it, redeemed the points for the gift cards. I just couldn't see any way around it. I did have other avenues through other points and redeemed them as such.

This has been about 10 days ago now, and guess what? In that time, I've found coupons, and deals, and managed to finish my Christmas shopping all without a need for the Wal-Mart cards, just a need for their value. So, now the dilemma. What to do with them? They still have an important value. Should I sell them?

Then I begin to think about this in further depth. I hate what they stand for; the take over of American business and the failure of so many a small town mom and pop retailers (of which I am one). But then I also see that so many need the deal in order to live and provide for their families. I don't fault anyone for whatever situation they're in. I also think that in striving for a Great Value (double meaning, intended) many haven't even contemplated the scope of what Wal-Mart's presence has done in their economies. I don't want to be elitist in my ideals. There is a practicality and necessity to so many for that company. It is unfortunate the power they yield. I just want my life to be about having the ability to choose and support those hard working local businesses around me.

I was prompted to write this evening as I was reading this newsletter. I found out about the organization through etsy and was very taken by this article from the Huffington Post.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Priceless Memories

I had a last minute opportunity yesterday to head to Chicago with a friend for their annual Christkindlmarket (I didn't even know they did this here, and was so excited when I found out)! I was thrilled because this was an experience that I had with my family in Nuremberg, Germany as a kid. I am staunch Irish, treasure my heritage, and have many precious mementos that reflect my beliefs and love for Irish culture. As I walked around the market, I was amazed at how much of my home has bits of my German roots and traditions. These memories are also very strong. My parents had an opportunity to explore this when my dad was stationed in Grafenwoehr, Germany before I was born. Through their experiences and memories I was raised with, and subsequently began my own collection of beautiful German tokens. My Nuremberg Angel, my cuckoo clock from the Black Forest, my precious pewter and pine cone Christmas ornaments and my nativity set from Oberammergau.

I was catapulted back to this when I saw these cookiesI received an one exactly like this from my folks upon their return from a trip to Germany. I bought one to give to my kids so they can have a similar memory. Sidney and Charlie now know that Ich Liebe Dich means I Love You in German. Thanks mom and dad!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Good Enough To Eat

Look what we've been working on this evening to help fill in our "candy tree"
These candy garlands are simple and a great project to do with the kids. Keep in mind the kids will lose interest after about the first dozen, at least mine did ; ) So truly its a great project for mom to do in order to create a festive holiday home for the kids. Yea that's it.
Have a good night!

Let's Get Ready To...Wrestle

On Friday as I was unpacking the school folders, there was a 1/2 sheet flier for the Racine Wrestling Club. I passively handed the flier over to Brian to see what he said. He didn't say anything, but spent time over the weekend watching and showing Charlie YouTube videos of kids wrestling. I thought it was very cute!

Monday morning rolls around and he lets me know that he and Charlie were going to the enrollment that evening and checking it out. Cool I thought. So after Brian gets home Monday evening he sends Charlie upstairs to change into some sweatpants and asks me if he has any clean tennies. I said yes, I just bought him new shoes yesterday, he's only worn them once and there's been no mud or anything. Brian says, he needs clean shoes and proceeds to take his old tennies and carefully clean the bottoms of them at the sink. Going so far as to take the tip of a knife to pick out any stray pebbles. (of course I think this is crazy, but I have no frame of reference here). So Charlie comes downstairs and I insanely attempt to put the clean shoes on him, what was I thinking? When expressing my extreme confusion to what is going on Brian tells me that shoes going on the wrestling mat have to be perfectly clean and only for the mat. I didn't even know they wore shoes while wrestling!

So now it unfolds, ever so slowly for me, a person who knows nothing of wrestling (my high school didn't have it). I get a text about 30 minutes later. The high school gym is pandemonium, over 100 kids show up and there's only 2 coaches and seems very unorganized. He and Charlie end up coming home fairly soon after that. He explained that not only was it a zoo, but they only had one mat and then a piecemeal partial mat and he was completely unimpressed.

Brian wasn't phased though, he immediately heads to the computer to research other area clubs trying to find something that would meet expectations. He finds a club in Oak Creek and is immediately excited. There is still 2 coaches but they strongly encourage parental involvement, especially those parents who have wrestled before to act as a kind of assistant coach. They are very strict with attire, shoe cleanliness, etc. So they're headed out again tonight to check out this club.

This is all foreign territory to me and I seem to have a bit of an learning curve. I'm excited about this possible passing of the torch of sorts between father and son. Now we just need to convince Charlie that he will not be rubber band catapulting himself off the top rope across a ring to tackle someone, as is his current vision.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tradition, Tradition....Tradition*

When the kids were very small, I wanted to be sure that we began some traditions that were ours. Something that we would take ownership of and look forward to every year in our little family unit. These special things we'd add to the repertoire of festivities we grew up with to create wonderful family memories.

One of those new family customs is heading out each year with some good friends to hunt for and cut down our Christmas trees. This day always seems to be highlighted by trudging through snow of various depths, followed by teeth chattering, frozen fingers and toes, excitement as all of the boys (and Sidney) take their shot's at trying to raze the tree, and topped off with a hot cup of cocoa. Today was the day this year, and amazingly the first year with nothing but a few scant patches of the fluffy stuff (mostly ice now) on the ground.

We've tried several different locations, experienced varying levels of comedy, and I don't think we've found the perfect place yet. We've gone from someone's home out in the boonies, who didn't have the supplies we needed to get the cut trees home. Can you say improvisation?? To a well run, yet very expensive place whose trees seemed to drop all of their needles within 48 hours of getting them home. Then this year's location, something very much in between. We'll keep trying, because... it's tradition. And as Sidney expressed today: "Why would we go and get a tree that someone else has cut down? What good is that?" It's tradition, it's what's expected by my kids from their memories of their childhood (even though their still children:)

Another ritual that I began very early was the Christmas pajamas. Each Christmas morning, the kids have brand new pajamas laying on their beds, waiting for them to slip into before they head downstairs. The first year I did this was when Sidney was 2. At that time princess nightgowns all came in big girl sizes. She still wears that purple princess one, now a thread bear rag. It's gone from full length to mini in six years. I guess I should have thought this tradition through. Come to think of it, neither of the kids will let me get rid of Christmas Jammies past. Hmmm maybe I need to learn how to quilt and make something from them....
I say all of this in reminiscent discussion of what we do and to get ideas of things to come. I love tradition. Music, magic, dreams, wishes, stories, folklore, wistfulness, all of those things that make you feel warm and at home. What are some of your traditions?

*I can't say the word tradition, without thinking of Tevye singing about it on Fiddler on the Roof! :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

In My Free Time

I've been hard at work getting some of our holiday gifts finished. I thought I'd post a teaser of some of the items I've been working on. Can you guess what they are? One of them could be for you! I guess I got an early enough start, because I seem to be ahead of schedule. The kids are working on some great teacher's gifts right now. I got the idea from one of my friends, please check out her awesome website Pre-school Learning Crafts. We're going to put a packet of basil seeds in the pots with a recipe card made out by the kids and our pesto recipe. Yum!I guess that's what I've been doing in my free time (keeping in mind over several weeks :), what have you been up to? Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Our Special Tree

Not quite like the beloved Christmas tree that Linus wrapped his blankie around in A Charlie Brown Christmas, we have a special tree we inaugurated 16 years ago. Jeez, I can't believe it's been that long already! The tree itself isn't so much the special part as what is on it.

I was reminded of this as I was feeling somewhat down, having a touch of writers block and not knowing what my next blog thought was going to be, and I began to unpack this box. The one where I had to unwrap all of the lovingly protected ornaments we've collected over the years as we've navigated through our life together.

You see, each year, we purchase a new ornament that is special for that year. It tells some story or represents an important event. Things like the year we met, when we've moved to a new place, our wedding, the birth of each of our children, our trip to Prague, our garden, etc. The kids love the tradition of decorating this tree, because they can hear and then tell themselves the stories behind the ornaments.

Last year we gave the kids each 2 new and special ornaments of their own. They have used these as the foundation to their own special tree and they are thrilled about filling it in.

We haven't purchased our ornament for this year. What will it represent? This has been a year of many tribulations, yet I'm a certain we will find the perfect fit that represents the year in both humor and sobriety. Most of all, this tree represents the tremendous blessings that we have in these memories that are paving our life's road.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like....

Well this is it. The true beginning of the holiday season. As I mentioned here, we're trying to focus on a homemade component to what we do this holiday season. It gives us an opportunity to give more of ourselves as well as gives me another arty outlet to kid time.

I've always been a bit of a type A about the whole Christmas card thing. I always mail them December 1st. So above you see what the kids and I have been working on the last few weeks in preparation for my fanatical mail drop.

Now this evening I begin the most despised part of my fanaticism, the addressing of envelopes. Grrr. Well with a glass of wine in hand, I'm off.

**Aside: In wanting to share ideas for homemade gifts, I do have a dilemma. I've photographed a lot of the gifts we've been working on and as much as I want to share what we've been up to, I don't want to spoil the gifts for those recipients who read the blog. Posting after the holiday's is ridiculous. As much as I love them, the cathartic cleaning and take down afterwards that helps me to focus on the new year would directly conflict with wanting to think about next years festivities. Hmmm. Maybe I'll see if I can do a wordle-like photo collage that show's bits and pieces without giving it all away. Thoughts?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Little Kindnesses

Norman Rockwell's Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving while thinking about what I'm thankful for, so many things began spinning in my mind. As one thought led to another, I began to think about how we live our lives and what small actions that we take may be what someone else is thankful for.

There are examples that illustrate this through the ages in books and movies. Touching holiday films such as
A Miracle on 34th Street. Or Dickens' A Christmas Carol whose premises, though written in 1843 hold as true today as they did then. Or a book like The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

While we were at the Chili's inside
O'Hare last week eating our supper, a businessman sitting next to us stopped by before he left and thanked us. You see, he has two kids about the age of our kids and misses his family very much. We made his night, just by being able to simply watch our family sit, eat and banter.

I've written
here about how choices that people make can so quickly effect others. But in contrast to the above mentioned post, so many of these choices are simple kindnesses that can change the course of someone else's day or life. A friend of mine posted this morning a simple quote from John Fitzgerald Kennedy that I think fits here perfectly: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

This Thanksgiving, take a moment to not only think about what you're thankful for, but how you live and what little things you can do to make those around you thankful.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Complete Frivolity

Yesterday I found, and made a purchase of a much needed item. Last winter was very hard on my gloves. I learned the important lesson that one should never spread ice melt while wearing leather gloves. By the time my task was done, the gloves looked as though they would fit perfectly on a gnome. As a punishment for my stupidity poor choice, I squeezed my hands into the elf gloves for the remainder of the winter.

On an excursion yesterday with my mother and daughter, I came across the perfect pair of wool winter gloves. Where better a place, you might think, to find this item than in Southern California? I assure you these beauties will be the perfect warmth for me in our sub-zero temperatures.

Here's the part that completely excited me...they are Echo Touch gloves. They have a little patch on each thumb and forefinger so that I will have no need to take off my warm stylish gloves to access the touch screen on my iPhone! This was exciting not only to me, but the salesperson as well. We huddled around the display and played with my phone accessing applications with the touch patch and then without it, and giggling at how cool this was! Quite a funny sight, I'm thinking now, in retrospect, but one that I'm sure has played out many times with this item.

So while we use today to prepare for the real things to be thankful for, I leave you with this little bit of frivolity that made me happy yesterday.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

First Tooth

Amazing how much a blueberry flower looks like a lost tooth!

It has been a time of great excitement and angst for my little boy. Yes he's had his first wiggly tooth. Charlie's been trying to get his teeth to wiggle since his sister lost her first tooth, very early I might add, three years ago.

He's been working on this first tooth for a few weeks now and in the last week it's gotten so loose and he'd started taking the boo boo bear to bed with him because it was painful. He would fight sleep for fear that he'd lose it in the middle of the night and swallow it. We assured him that he'd know when he'd lose it and to relax.

He was so conscious of this tooth, that it never occurred to me he'd miss his big moment. We're at grandma and papa's this week in California and yesterday morning his tooth was hanging by a thread. How could it not? There is this monster mutant adult tooth right behind it! The morning progresses, I'm at the table talking to him and I say, wait a minute Charlie, where's your tooth??

The search then begins, he's played basketball outside, been all over the house and had his Flintstones vitamins. Goodness. He's broken hearted. We assured him that the long awaited tooth fairy knows when all children lose their teeth. This doesn't console him much, he just wanted to relish this long awaited moment and to hold this little bit of himself in his hand.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Carrot!

Check out this Carrot!!

Charlie, our resident carrot farmer picked this beautiful root in honor of my birthday this week and it tasted wonderful roasted. Yum! (As you can see he takes his carrot farming very seriously).

I'm preparing to head to California tomorrow for Thanksgiving. I'm taking my journal and both camera's. I'm sure the holiday, vacation time and a family wedding will be fodder posts. Maybe one or two while I'm there ;) I'm bringing all of my plugs!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Simple Things

Thanks to Christina at Soul Aperture today is a post dedicated to life's simple blessings. Today is very fitting as it is my birthday, I reflect and begin anew.

These are a few of the simple things that make me whole:

A breath of crisp air

A kindred spirit

Watching my kids in pure unadulterated play

Hula Hooping


Soft pillowy flannel sheets

Long discussions of dreams and goals with my dearest love

The aroma of fresh baked goods in the oven


Groovin' family dance night

A hot cup of tea



Sunrise, Sunset

The Road Not Taken

Please play along and share your simple things, just note this post so we can all share with you. As Christina closes her posts;
One Love
(that does say it all doesn't it)?
Thank You!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Through the Rabbit Hole and The Root Cellar Completion

Yes, when you walk down into the basement now and catch a glimpse of the distance, you will feel like you're being welcomed down the rabbit hole through this oh so posh pink door! Alas, insulation for the root cellar door must take place from the outside. I do assure you, the inside is color neutral in white accented by the earthy red floor.
Once you decide to take the plunge down into our newly completed all natural refrigerator/produce crisper/wine cellar you may feel like you have followed Alice to another time and place maybe accompanied by the familiar anthem altered only slightly... All in all, we just took another brick out of the wall
Our mini-start to the wine collection
Brian drilled out through the foundation wall to put in this venting system complete with a fan for air circulation.
The potatoes and squash are once again at home.

Unexpected Treasures

One of the games the kids love to play is treasure hunt. Living on a 120 year old homestead, we're always finding bits and pieces when digging in the garden, or sifting through the barn. These farm treasures have been saved in a special place and will at some point we will use them to chronicle this place we love.

Brian is at the home improvement store picking up the few remaining supplies for the venting system in the root cellar, and called to ask me to check if we had a caulk gun. Drat! though I'm sure there's one somewhere, I cannot readily find it. So it must be added to the list. (as an aside, there are so many tools in so many different places between the house and two barns that tool organization is a major winter project for us).

Even though this search was in vain, it wasn't fruitless.

What I did find was a can full of wonderful old hinges and door lock plates. Just another piece of history to our wonderful old home and proof yet again, that you never know what you'll find hidden away in an old Sanka can.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tis the Season

The trees have taken on their winter pallor and though we've had a run of beautiful warm weather, there is a cooler and new crispness in the air as our temperatures begin their decent toward the winter season. Our town's holiday parade is this weekend and I'm sure that many will begin outdoor decorating as to avoid having to do it just before our first snow or bout of really arctic air. With this my thoughts are turning to the warmth of the holidays.

I love the rich smells of the season and am known to place a pot of mulling spices on the stove, just to scent the house. This year I am focusing on a handmade holidays and will be trying to make as many gifts and trinkets to those around us from the heart. Though, in some respects it also helps us in being economically responsible this gift giving season, I've found that not all handmade things are less expensive than what you may buy once you've assembled all of the components. True as that is, it means so much more to put the time and love into what we're doing, and teach the kids that it isn't just the gift, it's the process, the time we spend as a family and the little bit of us that we give.

I'll be posting tidbits of things that we're making, and would love to hear any ideas that you have on little things you do with your family to make the season special.

I found the above leaf today. I'd pressed it about 3 weeks ago. I came across a wonderful way to preserve leaves a few years ago:
Gather the leaves.
Place them between two sheets of paper toweling.
Place that between two sheets of newspaper and press in big heavy books for 2-3 weeks.
The come out beautifully having retained their colors and not being too brittle to handle.

You can then tie the stems with fishing line and hang them from a light fixture (they appear as if they're falling), or place them among your centerpiece for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Leaf Love

We've been very diligent on making use of things that were here on the farm when we bought it. Though there are a number of things that we could really use to make life easier, we must wait until we sell the other house. We did break down and purchase an item that we'll build off of in the years to come. A leaf vacuum. After two falls of raking the acreage, dragging hundreds of pounds of leaves on a tarp over to the compost pile then putting armful after armful into said compost pile, enough was enough!

Our 1986 Gravely tractor is running, but has difficulties. It now has a brand new color coordinated ornament to drag behind it (totally not planned that way)! As the transmission is near shot, there were moments of lunacy as Brian was run pushing me driving it, to get it going as we collected leaves this weekend. Like something out of Little Miss Sunshine, quite the picture!

So we can mark one thing off of the wish list, and dream of the other things in the future. The matching tractor w/ ride over mower deck, snow blower, front loader etc, etc, etc. We are very fond of our little workhorse tractor and it has done well by us. Hopefully another band-aid type adjustment will see us snow blowing the driveway this winter.....without the need for the running push start!
Our leaf and grass clipping collection to be turned with our kitchen scraps into next year's compost, Brian said it was even getting really hot in there as of this morning.....the cooking has begun!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

One Step Forward

Labor of love, tragedy, and learning this has been our bout with these crazy chickens of ours. It's difficult to discern the difference between pet and food animal. Though we've committed to only layer hens at this point, our little girl is no stranger to the difficult lesson we are taught by the circle of life.

One step forward and two steps back, isn't life full of these moments? But I suppose it would be no fun, and you would learn nothing along the way, if you got there, wherever there is, right away.

We learn from overcoming obstacles, and Sidney's thought process has matured in the last 18 months of raising chickens. Her beloved farm poodle got out on Friday and killed one of her chickens, the newest member of the family our beautiful Dominique.

Far from the horror and hysterics that came with the loss of her rooster last fall, she was contemplative upon hearing the news. Sad even, that it wasn't one of the other ones because they had lived a longer life and "Striker" had just begun hers.

We went upstairs last night and were greeted with the entire families funeral attire laid out and labeled for us. I'm so proud of my girl who has run the gamut of emotions learning how to reconcile her farm animals lives into her life. She has determined that the most important thing is the happy life they have.

We will begin again, allowing our two matriarchs to lead the way. This winter's project is now a large chicken tractor, so they can attempt to free range some, but in a much more restricted atmosphere due to a 7 pound farm poodle with a taste for poultry.
The orange note is simple "Striker's Funeral"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Root Cellaring We Go

It's been quite a process for us to get our root cellar built. Now that we're virtually done, I thought I'd give you a pictorial update on the construction.

We've researched hi and low the best way to get a storage cellar done and what all of the optimal storage temperatures are for the range of food we want to store. Funny enough, Brian found the most detailed and best information on root cellaring on a website by a group dedicated to surviving the second coming and return of the anti-Christ. Oh God I thought (no pun intended) is this what are friends and family think? That we're trying to prepare for the tribulation, or begin our own militia? I expressed these concerns to Brian who laughed at my sudden concern.

So before I begin with the photo show, we are trying to find a better way to preserve our garden harvest so that we can continue our path down self-sufficiency, sustainability, eating better, knowing the source of our food and saving money while enjoying all of the above. For the record, I didn't even know about the tribulation until he found that site. There, I said it! :)

I must add, that through many of the phases it seemed like a wonderful husband and wife comedy of errors. Lifting, holding, and nailing up things like insulation, ceiling joists, water barrier, then the ceiling itself. I must say that we both maintained good humor and sarcasm as we were standing with our arms constantly over-head feeling the burn, burn, burn ohh is that last screw or staple in yet?? WhewInsulated Rafters
Ceiling Joists
Moisture barrier
Blown in insulation
Ceiling almost up!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Little Bird Told Me

I'm sorry to say, I've been flat on my back with the flu. Even though I have not felt at all like moving, I did feel like stringing a few words together for the blog. Drat! If only I had laptop to accomplish this. I've been in a limbo of mindless television and staring blankly out of the window. I took a tip out of Martha Stewart Living a couple of weeks ago and placed bird feeders all the way around our wrap around porch to attract different varieties of interesting songbirds this winter. Well I can now say, my blank window stares have been quite entertained by tons of birds speeding across the sky to get to their free lunch.

I can't think of any other circumstance where I'd spend so much time staring out our living room windows. An important lesson learned. Take the time to slow down, and enjoy the little wonders around you. More later, be well!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Taking Down

As much as I love the preparation, anticipation, and each holiday in and of itself, there is something somewhat cathartic to the take down. *oink* I don't know whether it's the taking back of my house from festive paper crafts and the mass of the kids beloved window clings, or the excitement of preparing for the next festive season. *oink*

There are events to prepare for year round, but none is so intensive as the fall season, where one holiday leads directly into the next. *oink* Now I'm not one who relishes seeing Christmas decor in August, I think the retailers are just tapping into our consumer driven society's need for more stuff. I like to get creative with the kids and am trying to make more quality decorations each year rather than purchase. *oink* This year we're also trying to make many of our Christmas gifts. I'd give you a blow by blow of this, but that will have to wait, as some of you may be recipients of these. *oink*

As you can see today it appears that I have turret's. I don't know whether it's sympathy pains for my dear little niece whose under the weather or if it's the fact that I spent large chunks of my week around a combined 150 little petri dishes 1st and 3rd graders, but I myself am under the weather today. I'm wondering, a bit tongue and cheek, if that since I had my regular flu shot and the other one isn't available here yet, whether I have a touch of the swine.

So I have melted myself onto the couch with a hot cup of tea and mindless television to sleep, rest and try not to *oink*

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Witching Hour Approaches

Just a glimpse of the hours leading up to the witching hour. It has been a week full of:Pumpkin farms with first graders, 100 of them to be exact (room 104 & 106 shown here), I never knew a hay ride could be so loud! ;-)Silly buddies and crazy insane complicated party crafts...Screaming banshees parading, amazing how specific an 8 year old's banshee requirements are....
The trees shed the last of their fall blankets, leaving crisping leaves to let your imagination run wild with sounds, especially those of hooves galloping and saying.....

Happy Halloween Eve, enjoy preparations for the night of witching!


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