Friday, January 31, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On a Friday Night

Last Friday, I drove over to a fairly local butcher and picked up our share of a forequarter of organic grass-fed beef that we've gone in on with a second family. I requested to have included in our share all the 'waste' products from the butchering process- i.e. the bones and leaf fat (can you believe those are considered waste?).

After reading The Happiness Diet and having so much of what I've read here and there cemented for me even further, we bit the bullet and went all-in in the organic, minimally processed food game. No more dabbling, no more picking and choosing and keeping that tub of Crisco in the back corner of the pantry.

So what does one do late on a Friday night with a freezer full of all this good stuff? Why, make bone broth, of course.

Out came the pressure canner, the jars we've been emptying of late summer goodness, and the two biggest of the 15 pounds of stock bones, and a few hours later... ten quarts of good beef stock! (Originally 13 quarts, but three were broken in the process, sad day.)

That was fun.

Next stop: rendering tallow!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm loving a weekend that saw...

...another warm-up, complete with a Sunday that reached 71 degrees, which kept us all outside.
...the chance for me to use my new machete on the invasive scrub that's been my biggest adversary in my battle to bring our woods back around to a more healthy ecosystem.
...the chance for the hubs to use the new log splitter and replenish our firewood.
...allergy attacks on all four of us, which have added to the difficult nights we're (still) having.
...a late Saturday afternoon bonfire (mainly to get it out of the way of my garden spot so we can start work out there!), complete with potatoes baked in the ashes, a weenie roast, and marshmallows just before bedtime.
...a visit from a good gal-pal, a few cold ones, and an introduction to a new series I'm now addicted to.
...a few uninterrupted hours to flip through another chapter in my latest, The Art of Simple Food II, and find even more inspiration for my budding garden designs (pun intended).
...another glimpse of the local coyote pack at sunset, a blustery night to end the weekend, and a Monday morning with temps back below freezing and a windchill of 19 degrees!

This weekend we spent our days in the sunlight, an evening gathered around a bonfire, and our nights with our quilts kicked off our beds. This morning we'll find ourselves gathered around the fireplace, withdrawn back inside again, wrapped in throws and sweaters. This weather is a fickle thing, but at least it gives us beautiful weekends!

And honestly, there's something to be said about the beauty of the hearth when the blustery wind is biting at the eaves, too, don't you think?

Here's to finding beauty as we kick off our week! Happy Monday!

Friday, January 24, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Rough Sketch... and a Donkey

Yesterday was the last nice day before we plunged back into winter. We've been hearing about the 'arctic blast' for days now on all the local news channels. I think what's freaking everyone out most is the wind chills- in the teens for several days and nights.

Well, burr.

So the kids spent almost the entire day outside soaking up the sunshine, and I joined them for the first half of it to measure, stake, and outline that spot I've been eyeing for my garden.

I think I'm leaning toward an 'L' shape, with the chicken coop/yard branching off of the garden toward a small cluster of oak trees that stand to the north, which will shade and serve as a wind block (and might also help obstruct the view from the house, if the chickens aren't as pristinely beautiful as I'm picturing). The entire space will be enclosed by one continuous fence, and the chicken space will have a temporary fence that can be rolled out as needed. That way, during the off-season, they can roam about the entire garden, foraging, cleaning up, and fertilizing for me, and during the growing season I can sequester them away from tender sprouts.

I'm also fairly decided against raised beds this time around. In our old garden, I had about 12" raised beds because the original soil was hard clay, and the spot I chose in our yard frequently had standing water for days after rain. In our new place, the soil is very, very sandy (which drains well all by itself), and I believe raised beds will make the soil dry out way too quickly. SO- permanent beds yes, raised beds no.

Aaaand that's about all the planning I've done at this point. Tantalizing. I'm rearing to get on to the next step, though: execution.

Were you wondering exactly what the kiddos were up to while I was brainstorming all this up yesterday?

They were just hee-hawin' around.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014


This past Christmas, my Mama gave me a small golden tin.

Amid the toys, wrappings, boxes, pine, and mugs of hot coffee that morning, that little tin stood out.

Well, not the tin itself, but really what was inside the tin.

Small, handmade clay gnomes, snails, and a kitty. Magic.

Hands-down, these are my absolute favorite new treasures.

Building gnome homes has kinda been a thing for her, for us. It's becoming one for Audrey, too.

And now, with these, well... it just keeps getting better...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When You Rise

"When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, 
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself."

Monday, January 20, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm loving a weekend that saw...

...a flurry of cleaning, a few errands, and sunsets fire-pit-side with a cold one.
...a visit from an old friend, the making of a new one, and one of the best cheesecakes I've made to date.
...another successful gymnastics class for big sister (she's really getting the hang of that forward roll, and the trampoline... don't get me started!).
...more nights waking up to a screaming little brother, for no reason (let me think... first it was a hole in his blanket, then his bellybutton hurt, and then he wanted to know if we were asleep...).
...a morning waking up to cows peeking in our dining room windows, and the following afternoon helping neighbors corral them back into their own yard.
...warm sunshine, light jackets, and lots of play outside in sand, leaves, driveway, and woods.
...gnome homes with Mimmy, some fixin' with Pappy, and real good guacamole.
...a dear friend's wedding, way too much laughing, and lots and lots of bubbles.

We had a full weekend, but full in such a good way. It was a nice break from the house projects, though I'm sure we'll be right back at it next weekend (here we come new fireplace surrounds, TV cabinet, unorganized garage and- dare I say it?- garden!).

Until then, we have a lot of chores to do, and I better get to 'em! Happy Monday!

Friday, January 17, 2014

This Moment

Playing along with Amanda today... in her words: 

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Can Always Make More Coffee.


This morning, I feel stuck in a rut of frustration and sleep deprivation. I'm sitting in semi-darkness, nursing a cup of coffee like it's a cure-all and listening to Henry scream. Again.

I remember his big sister going through something similar when she was about his age. I remember the adrenaline-fueled flights up the stairs in the middle of the night after awakening to the top-of-the-lungs screams of a kiddo, only to find that just a sip of water was desired... and the cup was only three feet away the whole time.

I remember all the steps we took to understand- then cull- this behavior. I remember buying books like Toddler 411, On Becoming Toddlerwise, and What to Expect: The Toddler Years, devouring them, then giving them to Goodwill because quite frankly most of what was written was already something we were aware of (and had probably already tried).

I also remember my aha moment: no one can solve this one for me, because no one knows exactly what needs to be done... no one knows my kid (at least not any better than I do). Also, trial and error is OK, and having moments in the 'error' part of the process is OK, because I don't have all the answers either, and that's OK.

What I do for my kid(s) I do out of love, concern, and usually with a decent base of research. I am not out to harm them, I am not enjoying their misery, and I celebrate their success and joy with my entire being. SO when the nights are long and frequently interrupted, the mornings kick off early with screaming and yelling, and no one is well rested, I have to remind myself: I'm not missing the 'right way' to deal with this, I'm trying my best, and this won't last forever.

...and I can always make more coffee.

Side note: I know the photo in this post of my grandma's juicer has nothing to do with my rant, but it made me smile, so I stuck it in here. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Right Now

Right now, I'm... exhausted... and I'm not even one of the top three hardest-working people of the weekend (though Henry waking me up every night screaming at the top of his lungs for no real reason lately could be what's bringing me down...).

This weekend saw lots of sunshine, lots of windows open, and lots of housework. We had parents up early Saturday morning, and they didn't leave until after breakfast today. All weekend long they toiled, and today we have two new water heaters- installed and working wonderfully- and a working gas fireplace.

I really didn't contribute much to these projects, but I did have a lot of quality time with the kiddos and their Grammy, and we kept busy. And today I get my chance to contribute with the cleanup from said projects.

Old water heaters disposed of? Check (gave them away on Craig's List!).

All parts, pieces, and tools cleared out of our living spaces? Check.

Dust contained? Check.

Rogue fluffs and tufts of insulation rounded up? Check.

Floors either vacuumed, swept, or mopped? Check, check, check.

Bazillions of loads of dishes and laundry done with on-demand hot water? Oh, check!

We're a little off our game today from the upturned spaces and routine still lingering from this weekend, but it's been worth it, and we'll be back on track soon. In the mean time, did anyone call for a hot shower?

Yes, please.