Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday 'Round Here

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We had a sick kiddo, but he's feeling quite a bit better today. Besides that, we had a good day with some family, friends, and lots of food!

As for today, I don't do Black Friday shopping. I didn't even do it when I lived in the city. There just isn't anything at the stores I want enough to get up that early and deal with the crowds and chaos for. I went one year a loooong time ago and my friends and I were nearly plowed over in a parking lot and it seemed that most people were so rude to each other in the stores, fighting over stuff to buy or over getting a place in a line. Basically, by the end of that day I was really struggling to maintain my Christmas Spirit, so now I stay home!

Today, we are getting some work done on the old farmhouse. We need to get some better heat upstairs. Not all the rooms have vents and on the cold nights it's only been in the fifties up there, even with the Edenpure. Unfortunately, this means running more electrical wires upstairs and therefore cutting a hole in the ceiling of the basement stairway.

And the upstairs bathroom floor.

Cutting holes is our new (old) house does not make me feel great, but I'm trying to keep in mind that Farmer D is a very smart and capable guy, and it will all be  good as better than new in awhile.

 We also need to get the downstairs bathroom expanded and add in a shower. 
Which means cutting out a piece of this room .

To expand this bathroom through this doorway into where that wood floor is.

So, that is how I'm spending Black Friday. Yes, I would rather be doing this than shopping today!

Plus, there was leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast this morning!

The breakfast of champions, right there!

How are you spending Black Friday?

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thankfulness In My Living Room

Since Thanksgiving week is upon us I wanted to write a post about what I am thankful for. My problem with that is, I can go on forever listing all the things I'm thankful for. So, I decided to take a slightly different approach. I decided to just pick a spot in our house, stand in that one place, and find 10 things I'm thankful for right in that spot. I randomly chose the living room so here is my list of things I'm thankful for here in the middle of my living room.

1. God. (After all, He's everywhere.)

2. This Christmas cactus. As the winter gets gray and cold and bleak these bright, beautiful blooms will be a light in the dark.

3. These two lamps. They were made by a relative from trees on my old home place (see more about what that home means to me here Lessons From The Old Homestead). They are just waiting here for lamp shades.

4. Our Nativity. Every year I think about leaving this up when we take down the Christmas decorations. I always want to, but there seems to be some sort of rule about packing up all the decorations by early January  (judging by the people who come to our house and say "you still have your tree up?!) We love and celebrate this story all year long, not just during the Christmas season. This year it's staying up. 

5. This chair. My parents gave me this for my birthday many years ago and it's the chair I rocked the babies in, read books to them in, spend hours and hours sitting together and talking with them in, sat in all night when they were sick and I wanted to be up to keep an eye on them, and it's also the chair my brother-in-law will catch a nap in after Thanksgiving dinner before he has to get back to the dairy farm to milk the cows. (That nap is as much a tradition around here as anything else!).

6. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This is the latest book we've been reading (in that chair!) and it's one of my favorite things to do on days too cold to spend too much time outside. We all love this series and it's fun to read about the different things they did and then listen to the kids run to Grandpa and ask him if they did that when he was little! 

7. A level. This level belonged to my Grandma. She passed on before I had the privilege to meet her, but a few of the things I know about her are: she survived the suicide of her first husband, she raised seven children during the great depression, she gave her ration stamps to the folks in town because she knew they needed  them more than she did (she knew she could take care of her family with what she raised and grew on the farm) , and when anything broke down or fell apart on the farm Grandma was the go-to girl. I hope I inherited a little of her resilience, strength, and ability.

8. Bird feeders out my window. I know that seeing all the birds here will be a very welcome sign of life in middle of a long winter.

9. Socks. Yes, I'm actually thankful for the dirty socks that are almost always taken off and abandoned in the middle of the living room. Because that means that somewhere in this house there are children running around having way too much fun being kids to worry about picking up their socks. (I still fight it, "Kids! The floor is not the laundry basket!" but it secretly makes me smile.)

10. Handmade Christmas ornaments. This one was my birthday gift from Farm Boy last year. The red ball next to it is Styrofoam with one of the kids pictures glued on. I think those trees some people have with all the gorgeous matching glass ornaments and ribbons and lights are spectacular. But, for me, there's no tree I'd rather have than the one covered in multi-colored lights and handmade ornaments. (And there used to be candy canes on here...hmmmm...)

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Birthday Gift Project Completed

Remember how I was fixing up a little table and chairs for Farm Girl's birthday?

 It stared out with two chairs like this and a small table.
Then I worked on fixing them up like I talked about in this post,

Well, here's the update...

For some reason I didn't take a "before" of the table, but basically it was scratched up, a grayish, brownish color, with chipped paint. Here's the "after"

I think it turned out pretty well, and I'm sure she will like it. I found a toy tea set at a second hand store that was brand new, but the box was damaged, so I think I will just take it out of the box and set it up on the table and give it all to her that way.

Right now we have some salt dough ornaments in the oven, and I'm thinking maybe we'll make some bird seed ornaments this weekend (if the kids have settled down enough after all the birthday excitement!). 

Are you making anything fun this weekend?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Tale Of The Leaky Roof

Fortunately, the leaky roof is not the one on the house. It's a little garage that we have on our property. It's one of those things we will probably replace someday, but for now, my husband put a bunch of tools in there. And then the roof leaked. Water was all over the tools, so he had to spend an entire afternoon out there drying everything and then moving it somewhere else. So my dear brother-in-law volunteered to come and help put on a new roof. The guys took some of the roofing that had been on that hog shed we're tearing down (that post is here and got to work. Unfortunately, within the first hour or so, my husband fell off the roof. The good news is, he was not injured, climbed back up, and this time they nailed boards to the roof to help them keep their footing.

Things were going along pretty smoothly.

(That's my bro-in-law in the red cap)

Until that red hat in the picture above suddenly disappeared. Yep, my brother-in-law fell off. He was a bit more scratched up than my husband, but he's tough, he got right back to work.

They worked hard right into the evening.

And then...bro-in-law....fell off....again! But never fear, my eighty-year-old Dad was close by and ran over to get under him and "break his fall"! They both hit the ground and rolled down a small hill together.

What can I say? Once a cowboy, always a cowboy. Dad still comes to the rescue at every opportunity.
They are (thankfully!!) both ok. Bro-in-law is a little sore, Dad is right as rain. :)

At that point, it was time to call it a day.

Especially since I like to go to bed with the chickens, and I sure can't sleep with those three out there up on a roof!

I sure do love those boys!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Working On Our (Mostly) Homemade Christmas

I've mentioned a couple times that we are planning a mostly homemade Christmas this year. I've been working on gifts for the kids as well as planning out gifts for other family, friends and neighbors. So far we have:
Doll bed for Farm Girl

A quilt for each of the kids made from the receiving blankets they had when they were babies. The other fabric you see is what I put on the other side. They each chose a fabric they liked months ago and they know I'm using it on quilts for them, but they will still be surprised when they see that the big pile of blankets and fabric I has sitting around is now a quilt.

  • This is a tool apron for Farm Boy. I put a few toy tools in the pockets for the picture, but he actually never plays with the toy tools because his Grandpa made him his own spot in the workshop with his own tool bench and all his own real tools. I know he'll love loading this up with tools and hardware and heading out with the guys to work on the buildings or mend the fences!

I've also made some pajamas for each of the kids, and will probably make some more clothes for them.

Currently in the works, I'm refinishing a little table and chairs I found for Farm Girl (it will actually be for her birthday which  is also coming up soon).
There are two of these chairs and a small table. 

I pulled out about a hundred staples to get these seats off!

Sanded and painted

And got the seats recovered using a fabric from a curtain I bought second hand.
I hope to get them all put back together tomorrow and also make a tablecloth for the table. I'll post some more pics when it's all done!

The kids and I are also planning to make salt dough ornaments for some family members as well as lots of cookies, crackers, and breads for our wonderful neighbors. 

I'm enjoying that fact that I will not be running around to a bunch of stores in traffic and crowds and stressing about how much money we're spending this year. Instead that time is being spent outside working on these projects, at my sewing machine doing something I enjoy, and making things with my kids, which is the very best part. 

Are you doing any homemade Christmas gifts this year? I would love to hear about them!

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Heating Our Home

It's getting cold, our low a couple nights ago was eight degrees! And we won't even talk about the wind chill! So now we get our first taste of winter in our new wood-stove-less house. This is the first time in many many years I haven't had wood heat and I already dislike it very much. Our house is heated with an oil-fired furnace, which is diesel  (seemed weird to me, but I hear they do this quite a bit in the East. If you live out East, do you know if that's true?). So first up we had to figure out how to check the level in our underground fuel tank.  Which you have to use this big metal stick for. Which we had to go get from the scrap metal pile because we thought it was trash and were throwing it away. Oops. Anyway, we have to dip it into the oil through a pipe coming up from the tank and then measure how many inches are covered in oil when we take it out.

Then we have to look up the number of inches on this little scrap of paper which tells us how many gallons we have in the tank.

Then we write a check for over a  thousand dollars to put enough fuel in to hopefully last the winter with the help of extra electric heat.

Oh, and it's still much cooler in here than I like. But I don't want to turn up the heat because of the cost. (I know, I know, just get another sweater!)

I really miss having a wood stove.

We had Woodstock Soapstone wood stoves in two of the other houses I lived in and they are awesome.   I always kept our house really warm (probably a lot warmer than most people would like). We put in electric heating for back up, but very rarely used it. I loved loading up the stove and getting the house up to about eighty-five degrees, then opening a window a little to have that winter fresh air smell in the house but still be toasty warm! Which sounds kind of weird, opening windows in the winter, but really, it's great! 

For this year, we will just have to make do, (and of course be very thankful that we have heat at all!) but it's definitely a priority in the Spring to get a new stove and get rid of this furnace. Do you heat with wood? What do you love (or not love) about it?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

One House Sold, One More To Go!

 We closed on my parents old place this past week, and now the focus is on getting our old house ready to go. We had lived in a small town before and had been there for about eight years.  It was a nice town and I think we would've stayed there except for two things. One, we really wanted an acreage, and even though maybe we could've eventually found something around there, there's still the second reason...the flood of 2011.

 On June 1st 2011 we found out that because of an excess of water being let through Gavin's Point Dam it was expected that our town would flood. We were originally told we had about 24 hours to get what we wanted out of our houses and get out of the town. Our town was even on the news and they said we would be "wiped off the map"!

I panicked. We had bought our house as a "fixer-upper" and torn the whole thing down to the studs (and took out some walls completely!) and then re-built the entire thing ourselves. No architects, plumbers, electricians, contractors, nothing.

We bought it...

We gutted it...

 We put it all back together.

We did it all with our own hands (more my husband's hands than mine, especially after our kids were born!) This also meant we moved in with my family off and on when we were working on things that we didn't want the babies in the house for, so my husband would go straight from work to our house and work on the construction there until late at night, then drive to my parents place to be with us even though the kids were usually already asleep. We barely saw each other for months at a time, not to mention he was working so hard on very little rest and I was caring for the kids alone.  It was so much sacrifice in time together as a family, energy, money, and in so many other ways, and then to hear that it would all be destroyed was pretty difficult. When I found out that we had to get out I called my husband and told him what was happening and he said "We have our family, so we are ok. We will be fine as long as we're together". I'll never forget that. It calmed me down. Then so many of our wonderful family and friends dropped everything and came to help us, some with trucks and trailers, some with basements or garages they offered to store our stuff in, some with many prayers for us. Another thing I'll never forget? Looking out at our front lawn at our friends and family loading our stuff into their vehicles to help us move it all as quickly as possible. It was getting dark and there was lightening off in the distance, and I was so very thankful that I was blessed to have these amazing people in my life.

This pictures was the street in front of our house in our normally very quiet town! So many people trying to get out what they could and find somewhere to go. Lots of people were going to shelters that had been set up in other towns. We were very fortunate to have family nearby who were willing to help us, we spent the next few months alternately staying with my parents and in-laws.

To make a long story (sort of) short, basically everything surrounding our town flooded, the fields, the other small towns, the streets to get into town, but our town was untouched (remember those prayers I mentioned?) . We moved back at the end of September 2011. But after that we knew we wanted to be farther from a river!

So next up on our journey, we will start getting ready to sell that house. It's where we lived when we first got married, where we started our family, and where our kids spent their babyhoods. And even though it didn't seem like it would be a good memory at the time, it's where I learned how true it is that we really are ok as long as we are together (with not only our little family, but our extended family and the greatest friends we could ever ask for).  

I'm so looking forward to making lots of great memories in this house and on this land now. I would love to hear some memories you have from your homes over the years too!

This post is also on on the Homestead Barn Hop, and for Tuesdays With A Twist.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cracked Corn And Other Stuff From This Week

This week hasn't been my most productive because we've had lots of coughs, stuffy noses, and sore throats to deal with. Luckily, we all seem to be on the mend. Which is good because none of likes to have to slow down or stay inside for very long! I actually think if the weather is fairly good being outside is one of the best things for a cold, but it's been cold and rainy most days lately so we haven't been getting out as much as we would like.

We have gotten a few things done around the farm though. We are beginning to work on tearing down an old hog shed on our property that is in really bad condition.

We're salvaging a lot of the wood to build a staircase in our grain barn . 
When we first moved in we found that for some reason some past owner had removed the steps to the top of the grain barn making it inaccessible. We eventually figured out where they used to be and removed the boards that were covering the entrance. We were able to put up a ladder and climb up there and to our surprise there was about 2 or 3 feet of cracked corn in there! We got the old shoots working and loaded the corn into a truck and then moved it into barrels. We'll use it to add to our chicken's diet this winter.

I think the only thing our chickens like more than cracked corn is the bread the kids feed them. We have a friend who occasionally gets a load of bread from a bakery in the city and brings us some for our chickens and geese. They love it, they come running from every direction when they see someone with bread!

Apparently the cats like it too.

Hopefully lots more work will get done on the hog shed this weekend. The goal is to get it all taken down then move the chicken houses to that location. They are currently way too close to our house, plus the spot they are in would be a great place for a kitchen garden next year. 

By the way, if you've been a victim of the beginning  of cold season like we have, a couple of our favorite (natural!) things to make us feel better are:
 A teaspoon of honey for a cough
 2 cups of Epsom salts and about 10 drops of eucalyptus oil in a hot bath to relieve congestion, aches, and chills
 And to boost immunity: a couple cloves of garlic (which has wonderful antimicrobial properties) in a warm soup or broth. 

Hope you all have a great rest of the week, and stay healthy!