Saturday, March 23, 2013

Friday Fantasy

A barn. 

OK.  Yes, I could probably have something in the way of a barn right now.  And you might also argue that I do have a barn.  Right on both accounts.  BUT, the beautiful log barn I have is a one stall deal (my husband's way of sending me the "keep it to one horse" message - hah!).  Yes, we could afford to build something of a full barn now, but we are doing the Dave Ramsey debt snowball and have a lot left to go before we can get to the barn.  Plus, I will be fussy with my barn.  Probably fussier than I was with building our house.

So my someday barn is this week's late Friday Fantasy.  Below are some pins I've tacked in Pinterest for the "someday" barn.  The "someday" barn will have dutch doors.  I love dutch doors.  I think my hubby plans to make it in the same cord-wood building style he is using on the chicken house complete with arches on the doors.  

Won't that kind of wood and wall look fantastic with a horsey head sticking through?  Someday.  The rest are just barns I like!

and this is how the front and back door will be (arched and split) 

Barns and Buildings - quality barns and Buildings - horse barns - all wood quality custom wood barns - barn homes - rustic barn home - horse facility - horse stalls - riding arenas - pole barns - metal roofing - wood homes - barn builder - nationwide barn -

More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I Love my Dogs

But  I don't trust them with my kids.  No.  I don't have known biters or vicious dogs.  I have normal, sweet dogs.  With normal reactions.  I have a 13 year old husky mix, Dixie, with back trouble, I have a 14 year old beagle-pit mix, Rooster, with knee trouble.  Both these seniors have some degree of vision loss due to age.  I have a 6 year old collie/border collie mix, Billy, who has had fear issues his whole life...but not been a fear biter so far.  I have a 4 year old blue heeler, Roscoe with all the attitude that comes with being a blue heeler. I LOVE THESE DOGS.  These guys have been my "fur babies" for more than a decade in some cases.  I will not part with them.  Which is why I am so careful about their interactions with my toddlers.

I used to work in animal rescue.  I used to sit at the adoptions table at Petco or Petsmart and judge the couples that would come up and give me the "we had a baby" story.  I vowed there was no way I'd ever dump my pets when kids came along.  In many cases I do think people are doing that.  But now, after having  kids of my own I have to allow for it perhaps not being so black and white in every case.  I still don't think dumping the animal is the answer.   Being better prepared and more responsible is the answer.

I have twin 15 month old boys.  They fall.  They grab.  They squeeze.  Sometimes they bite.  I worked around dogs for many years at vet clinics and at the teaching hospital at Texas A&M College of Vet Med.  Good dogs bite.  Stressed animals react in their most basic and natural way.  You always hear "He's never bitten anyone before!   I can't believe it!"  Well I can.  He doesn't understand that I'm trying to put this catheter in his leg for his own good.  All he knows is a stranger is restraining and hurting him.  It can be the same with kids.  Plus, add to it that the kids are little creatures they now have to share you with.  

I consulted with an animal behaviorist before the boys were born and implemented her suggestions long before the boys came home so that the changes to their world couldn't be associated with the intrusion of the pink screaming little bundles.

I want my boys to LOVE dogs.  I want them to love all animals.  On my "little boy to do list" is to have each boy adopt a young dog and take it though the Canine Good Citizen training course and then weekly visit nursing homes with their pup.  There are so many lessons to be learned in that.  

So I allow my boys around one dog at a time and very closely supervised.  The boys need to learn proper behavior around dogs, not the other way around.  My dogs are well mannered.  My boys need to learn to be.  I am still uncomfortable with them around other people's dogs until the boys learn to behave properly toward dogs.

My boys sleep in cribs.  I let one of the dogs sleep in their room for all naps and sometimes through the night.  This I hope builds a closeness for them in a situation where my boys can't overwhelm the dog or, as this dog trainer so perfectly puts it:

Click on the text above or here to read more of this or other posts from "Dogs and Babies" - an animal behaviorist who specializes in helping families with babies and young children live well with their family dogs.  

More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Monday, March 18, 2013

There is Beauty in Simplicity

Just pulled 2 large trays of Maple Toasted Almonds and Oats out of the oven.  Perfection.  I will never buy a cardboard box of breakfast cereal again.  Best part?  I think the mister will agree!  This is so simple it takes me back to my constant question "What did people do for __ before __?"  Another "duh" moment.  I am chewing this stuff as I type.  It's fantastic.  Also, it's CHEAP and you know EXACTLY what's in it.  

SIMPLE + CHEAP + WHOLE FOODS = A fantastic recipe I HAVE to share.

OK.  Here it is.  From a great food blog, Barefeet in the Kitchen I give you Maple Toasted Almonds and Oats.

My suggestions?  Get a large sack of old fashioned oats from the bulk section of your favorite healthy foods store and order a bulk supply of maple syrup.  OK, the maple syrup suggestion is just in keeping with my plans to convert our pantry (see previous post) and because I've been back and forth just today with the guru at Flying Pony Farm about a bulk strawberry order and the order we're going to place from Lown Family Maple Syrup in Michigan when it's ready.  Note:  I have not purchased from the Lown Farm before but the guru at Flying Pony Farm does annually.  So it has to be great.

Then, mix up a batch of Maple Toasted Almonds and Oats and enjoy it with your favorite fresh fruits in milk or perhaps over some ice cream.  YUM.   I added a bit of melted butter to the recipe because I firmly believe that everything is better with butter.


More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Madness In Pictures

Happy Saint Patrick's Day ya'll!

Cookies and cake at Great Grandpa's then lunch picnic at the cabin and some hiking and dirt eating.

At the Cabin March 2013
At the cabin March 2012

 More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Fantasy

Taking another dip into the bucket list for today's Friday Fantasy.  There is something very attractive to me about yoga and the balance, health, mental and physical benefits it imparts.  But I can't seem to get into it.  It is a discipline that takes time and that's not an issue for me in that I wouldn't expect to be a master in a week.  The fact that it is something you are always building on is a big part of what attracts me.  

I think my biggest hurdle is not having classes available nearby.  For me it's not really something I like doing from a DVD.  I'm never certain I've got the pose correct.  

Anyway, my Friday Fantasy and bucket list item number nine is to attend an equestrian yoga clinic somewhere in the Rocky Mountains with my own horse.  Second to that would be to attend the Cowgirl Yoga retreat in Montana.  Or do both!


Images are from Big Sky Yoga Retreats

  More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pantry Conversion

If I had more time....

How many times have I started a sentence with that opener?  A million.  Even long before the boys came along.  

But if I had more time I could really get into the homestead concept.  Or at least the homemade - do it/cook it/build it yourself concept.   There are so many times we immediately go to the packaged & processed version of something without realizing how simple it is to make it ourselves.   Having grown up in the era of processed and packaged it rarely even entered my mind to think "What did people use to ____  before ___?"  Duh.

When we built our house we agreed that we wanted a HUGE pantry.  And we got that.  So over the next few years (I do not have the time to move faster) I hope to convert 90% of what's in there to stuff we've made ourselves.  For now, I'm going for the simple and non-time consuming (the low hanging fruit so to speak).  Thankfully, I'm learning there is a lot of low hanging fruit.  My dear friend at Flying Pony Farm is way into this and has been an invaluable resource.  It's also a bit of a trend right now and places like Pintrest are a brilliant place to find recipes for pretty much anything.   Really I'm just scratching the surface but I'm committed to this and ready to dig in.  I think my family will be healthier for it.  The added bonus is in the financial savings because it's often more cost effective to mix up a big batch of something than to purchase the packaged version.

So where did I start?  Bread.  Pancake mix.  Baby food. Surface cleaner.  Chicken stock.  Beef.

I've posted before on the baby food.  It's simple. Honestly I don't think I could have paid a dollar plus for six ounces of pureed organic peas and water.  It's crazy.  Not to mention tasteless,  full of sodium and preserved to sit on a shelf for years.  Bag of frozen peas & a blender...simple.

Pancake Mix.  Well there are tons of great pancake mix recipes on the internet.    All I did was mix up the dry ingredients so that they're ready to go...kinda like that box of pancake mix you get at the store.  Only a WHOLE LOT cheaper.  Plus I know exactly what's in it.  Here's my most recent favorite from 100 Days of Real Food (an excellent resource).  And here's one I'm going to try next from The Hillbilly Housewife.

today's loaf already half eaten
We eat a lot of bread.  For better or worse it's our downfall.  We've had a bread machine for years.  It was in fact the only appliance my husband came to the marriage with.  But it gathered dust and it was always a treat to make a loaf, and when we did it was from a packaged mix we bought.  So I Googled a simple white bread recipe, mixed it up and voila!  Bread.  You can't beat warm fresh bread.  Even my husband who is dubious about my homemade concoctions and prefers the convenience of processed and  packaged loves fresh homemade bread.  OK, I do use the machine and I do respect those who lovingly knead their loaves...but I don't have the time.  This conversion has to be simple and easy or we won't stick with it.  Best part of this pantry conversion step?  Waking up to the smell of fresh baked bread since the machine has a delayed setting so I can fill it before bed and set it to be finished by morning.  Awesome right?  I haven't yet but I'd like to start saving our stale leftovers for bread crumbs.  I mean seriously, we buy bread crumbs!  Think about it!  I'll post my recipe for bread machine white bread in another post...promise.

Chicken stock.  Well I find organic chicken to be pricey.  Absolutely worth it of course.   I have friends who raise organic pastured chicken and I know there is a lot of overhead that goes into it and they're not getting rich off it.   So when we get it I want to use it.  All of it.  Last fall I purchased 6 stewing hens from a local organic farm and used a roaster as a large crock pot to make giant batches of chicken stock.  I then packaged most of the broth in 2 cup portions and froze them.  I also packaged the vegetables and meat with some broth in larger portions for the flu season.  Jewish Penicillin can't be beat when you're suffering from the flu.

Citrus peelSurface cleaner   Simple.  There's a bunch of Pinterest posts on this.  Vinegar, citrus peels and essential oil.  Combine, cover and let sit.  I let mine sit on the counter for about 2 weeks.  Then fill a spray bottle and get to cleaning! Here's one that is similar from Pinterest (click the photo to go to it)

Beef.  We raise it for sale...why not raise it for us?  We've kept back a calf and hopefully in a few years we'll have a deep freeze full of home grown beef.

So next on my Pantry conversion list is ranch dressing mix, cream of mushroom soup, onion soup mix, butter & of course, bread crumbs.

  More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Another Simple Toddler and Husband Approved Recipe

Baked Cheddar-Broccoli Rice Cups

We're still living in the strictly finger food stage these days so these caught me eye right away.  Protein + veggies in a form that makes little hands happy.  This is an easy one folks, add it to your staples list!

This recipe is basic and has been posted on a LOT of blogs but to the best of my knowledge originates at The Fountain Avenue Kitchen so I send you there for the recipe in detail. The best part is if you make up a double batch they freeze very well if you're careful to get the air out of the ziplock.  So stock up!

My only tip is to stress getting the moisture out of the veggies before using them.

More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Book Review

CircleBonesLoRes copy.jpgLoved it.  Just finished listening to the audio version of this book and it was fantastic.  I'll admit I almost gave up on it because I couldn't get used to the actress narrating it.  But the story was fantastic with a wonderful, self sufficient, strong female lead.  As I've mentioned, we live pretty rural so anytime I go somewhere it's 30+ minutes drive.  I get bored with that fast.  So my answer has always been audio books   Therefore when selecting an audio book I look for length as well as an intriguing story (they're pricey you know?).  This one has it all, plus the promise of a follow up.

Click on the image above to go to the Author's site.  The text below is from the Amazon site.  I can't wait for the next installment of the adventures of Riley and Cole!

Former marine Maggie Riley has just set sail for the Caribbean, ready for a little R&R on her forty-foot boat before starting a work assignment in Dominica. Then Cole Thatcher appears. Sexy, naked—and possibly nuts—Cole turns out to be an archaeologist searching for the wreckage from a World War II submarine that may hold millions in gold coins and classified documents from a powerful inner circle of the secret society Skull and Bones. Maggie has enough skeletons to deal with, but when she learns her own past may intersect the Bonesmen’s, joining Cole in the hunt for the sub may be the only course to uncover a hidden truth.

Leave me a comment with a suggestion of what to read/listen to next!

More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Madness in Pictures

 The day started out with doggie baths (they asked that I don't mention their embarrassing skunk incident earlier this week...not pretty)

 Then we did some spring yard cleaning with the supervisory crew overseeing from their car seats.

napping in the fresh air

Bath time fun in the utility room tub...perfect for bathing puppies and babies.

Yup.  The water is blue.  A little food coloring tub fun.

More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Fantasy

I keep a bucket list.  Started before the boys were born and while they will obviously be a part of lots of the bucket list items, this list is mine.  I do plan for them each to have one someday for themselves.  I think it's a great way to get them to think about their future and get excited about the endless possibilities it holds.

I keep mine in a box with pretty pens and it's written in a floral little notebook.  It's very special to me.  Before the boys, my birthday ritual would be to pull it out and sit at a coffeehouse somewhere going through it - updating and editing...and planning my new year.

So for today's Friday Fantasy I'm pulling from my bucket list.   

Opening the notebook and randomly selecting an item for the lengthy list.

Drum roll.

Item #16 - Take a surfing workshop somewhere like California or Hawaii at a women's only school. 

If you know me you're raising your eyebrows.  This is very not me.  Surfing?  Yup.  I'm going to do it too.  Someday.  Yes, I know, it means some sort of swimwear.  I don't care.  I'm going to do it.

Here's some school websites I like to browse (click on the caption or picture to go to their full site):

Surf Diva Surf School California

Kelea Surf Spa Hawaii

More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Alternative American Lifestyle...Living Debt Free

Smith Family's story

Two things are prompting me to write this short post today.

1)  I made the LAST payment on our family vehicle this week.  Yeeessss! 

2) This facebook post from Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. about the Smith Family.

Credit where credit is due.  

A few years ago a couple I knew attended Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace class hosted by their church.  I listened when they talked about the principles of the class and it reminded me of what I considered common sense & what Mom had taught all those years ago with babysitting and paper route money.  But being a  DINK (Double Income No Kids) household we didn't really focus on it.  However, it stayed at the edges of my mind and after the boys were born it quickly moved to center stage.  I had more to worry about now than just my future.  

So we bought the coursework & DVDs and dug in.  We live rural, as I've mentioned so there wasn't a class nearby.   I was excited.   I'm a planner, spreadsheet type (Dave has words for my type) and Michael is a fly by the seat of your pants type (Dave also has words for Michael's type).  I was so ready to start working on this.  So we breezed through step 1 - build an emergency fund.  The boys were changing fast so I took all the baby gear they outgrew and sold it on Craigslist to get to that emergency fund goal faster.  Truthfully, we'd always had something of an emergency fund so I had something to start with too.

Then we got to step 2 - pay off debt - and things slowed considerably.  It's not a magic plan.  It's slow and steady.  Kind of like smart weight loss.  There are no magic pills or short cuts.  It's hard.  But we hung in there and this week we've made it to the first big hurdle.  We've paid off one of our vehicles.  YES!  That is MAJOR incentive for us to get that snowball rolling and take that extra $500+ in our monthly budget and roll it into our other vehicle payment (the tractor) and get that paid off too.  And so on.  Until our household is debt free and we can do the things we want to do with the boys and teach them by example about having a smart financial foundation in this ever shifting and unsteady economy.  This is one gift I hope desperately to give to my boys.

I encourage everyone to attend or watch a Financial Peace University Class.  It'll change your life.

More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Sunday Madness in Pictures

Sorry ya'll.  No pics this time.  Decided to spend the day completely unplugged and entirely with my family.  It was wonderful.

More later.

Thanks for visiting!


Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday Fantasy..........Fowl

I want chickens.  

The kind that lay blue and green eggs.  Plus some of the kind that look like Foghorn Leghorn.  I want a unique chicken house I can decorate with whimsy.  I want an excuse to buy things at the Round Top Antique Fair that I would have no other purpose for.  I want to fence it like an English garden.  I want to collect eggs with toddlers. I want birds that are raised as pets so the boys can handle them.  I realize that we'll then have retirees and that's OK   If they give us eggs for a while they can retire here loved and petted.  

I realize there's a lot of work and science that goes with keeping chickens, but this is a Friday Fantasy post, all fantasy no technical.

This fantasy has been coming along nicely but I won't have birds until next year.  My dear husband has been working on the coop though and it's going to be magic.  If we can figure it out, it'll even have a living roof.  Won't the girls be pleased?

Here's some pictures of the progress so far.

We're using logs instead of stones.
It will be 12'x12' and 1/2 will be coop and 1/2 will be screened in run.

The 2 doors from the coop to the outside will have arches (the wooden frame at the top of the door now is there until the mortar sets and then will come out) 

The doors themselves will be arched and center split.  The hollowed out log at the top will be set with slats in the inside to provide ventilation.

The pictures below are of the east wall and the space between the top rail and the logs will be chinked with large mason jars instead of logs to provide natural light and a whimsical look.

 Below is a picture of the wall between the coop and the screened in run.  It's only halfway completed and will have 2 large shuttered windows flanking the hollowed out log piece.  The hollowed out log will have a ramp attached to both sides and will serve as the door for the birds to come and go between the sides.  Cool right?!  I love that part.

Once it's finished I'll fence a yard around it for the birds to get out and eat some grasshoppers!  It's set in my horse pasture which is perfect because one of the horses, George, HATES dogs and will serve as predator control.  I'll also hot wire the outside of the fence in case George is sleeping.

I have such a talented husband!  
When we first moved to this property I asked for a 3 sided shed for my riding horse to get out of the weather.  Something temporary until we had a barn built.  So he cut logs and built me a one stall log barn complete with loafing porch and shuttered windows.  I think he thought that if he built only one stall I'd keep it to only one horse.  Yeah right.

The barn in the background
Picture directly above and below taken by Anna Spencer of The Grace Photography 

George, the predator control hanging out in the barn.

More later.

Thanks for visiting!