Getting Started

I don’t buy books much anymore. That’s what my Kindle is for. My house is so small and I had sooo many books and it was driving Joe crazy. So in order for me to get a Kindle to use to read from I agreed to downsize on my books. I did really really well at first. I got rid of all but my most loved books and most of them have been put in storage. But as time has gone by I have bought a book or two here or there. There’s just something about an actual book and holding it in your hands and smelling it and thumbing through it. Nothing compares.

And cookbooks and self help books just don’t work for me on the Kindle. I have to be able to thumb through and find a page I need and bookmark it and even write notes if need be. So at the beginning of the year I ordered a few books to help get me started on my plan to save time, save money and eat healthier around here. I’m loving these books. I already had Little House Living and have read it multiple times and have used some of her ideas. She has a wonderful blog too with so much great information on it. I’ve gone through it and written down so many recipes and ideas that I want to get started on.

Then there’s Homestead Kitchen. I almost didn’t order it because I didn’t know if it would really help me out much.  I ordered it more for a treat to myself because I’m loving watching Alaska The Last Frontier  and I wanted to learn more about Eiven and Eve and the Kilchers. But I’m glad I’ve got it now. I’ve read it from cover to cover. It’s amazing how much reading you can get done on long road trips! I love this book. I love all the personal stories and there are so many recipes I want to try. Now it’s just a matter of slowing down around here and taking the time to try something new now and again.

These last two I want to really spend time going through and I just haven’t had the time yet. I have browsed through them and think they are going to be full of great information and be very helpful. The bread recipe I tried out the other day came from The Made From Scratch Life. So much of what you read in these books is common sense and really, I just need a reminder now and then to get back to the basics. Many things are things I have wanted to do or try but just wasn’t sure how. Now I have no excuse – I just have to get up and do it!

Monday

Today is a cold windy Monday at 1 degree and the wind makes it feel even colder! I just came in from cleaning out the chickens. They are happy campers now. Clean coop, fresh water, feed bowl filled and banana peels for a treat. As happy as they can be I guess being cooped up in the coop. They sure don’t like the snow and cold. The kitties have fresh water too and a bowl full of food and a nice warm insulated doghouse full of straw.

Today has been busy. A two hour delay at school due to the cold and wind. That means keeping Drew entertained and yet ready to go to school when it’s time. He doesn’t sleep in and he gets all settled in at home when there’s a delay and then it can be a fight to get him out the door. Today we played with legos and talked about school. I think that helped.I made chocolate chip cookies when I got home from delivering Drew. Eric goes back to Iowa today and I wanted to send him off with something yummy from home! Then I spent some time on the phone with my mom who is trying to help my aunt learn how to use her new iPhone. Mom doesn’t have an iPhone so it’s quite comical trying to get her to understand over the phone so she can explain to Aunt Konnie over the phone what to do. I think we might be running to Konnie’s house tomorrow afternoon. It’ much easier to explain in person than doing it this way.

 

I did manage to squeeze in a frugal pantry craft though. Am I the only person who will buy a product at the grocery store just for the pretty label? I loved this label on the store brand flour at our local grocery store. Now, in this instance I would have bought this brand anyway due to it being the cheapest. When you shop at the local grocery store in a small town, you tend to buy the store brand. It still many times is more expensive than anything you can buy at the bigger name brand store. But sometimes it’s just cheaper and much less time consuming to run to town which is seven miles away than it is to run to the closest Fareway or Hy-Vee which are 30 miles away.

I was in need of flour and when I saw this label on the flour bag I fell in love. It’s blue for one thing and I love the old time feel!  I thought it would be perfect glued to my flour jar. Now to find similar labels for my other jars – sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, powdered milk, rice, macaroni noodles, etc. I’m not sure that will happen at the store so maybe I can find something on Pinterest I like that will coordinate. I like the how cheery this looks sitting on my cupboard and would like to have all my jars look pretty. And I used wheat paste so if I need or want to I can take this off and replace it with something else down the road.

A Sunday Visit

We went for an afternoon visit today to see Uncle Jerry and Aunt Konnie. I was thankful I wasn’t driving – I don’t do well in these conditions! It snowed all the way to their place and it was so pretty. I just love the snow! Here’s the highway leading to Rubio, the little tiny almost non-existent town they live just outside of.

And I love gravel roads covered in snow (although this isn’t a whole lot of snow). That bend in the road – it takes you to one of the prettiest places in Iowa! I shared pictures of Uncle Jerry and Aunt Konnie’s place last summer and it’s just as pretty in the winter. The only difference is it was so cold out and I didn’t wear my boots so I only took a few pictures from the truck as we were moving so I didn’t get the best pictures.

Off to the right, a few of Uncle Jerry’s horses with their backs to the wind. Uncle Jerry has always had horses and at one time he raised mules. On past these horses there were goats and llamas. I didn’t get any pictures – next time maybe. Uncle Jerry said he had just bought some new goats yesterday and they were due to give birth at any time. If it had been a warmer day and I had been dressed more appropriately I would have gone out with him to check on the mamas. Baby goats – how sweet. When I was growing up we would have been getting ready for lambing season. I loved the baby lambs!

And to the left I the old farmhouse and barn. Up the road and around the bend and you’re there. The house on the left and the most beautiful view to the right.  A big old farmhouse and room to roam. Lots of memories here and they’re all good. My older kids always enjoyed visiting and now Drew does too. It’s almost like time slows down when I’m visiting Uncle Jerry and Aunt Konnie.

 

Winter Is Back

After being in a record breaking deep freeze for a couple of weeks after Christmas we had almost Spring like weather earlier this week. The temps were in the 40’s yesterday. That feels downright balmy after below zero temperatures! And then today came and winter came right along with it! Freezing rain and snow, a huge drop in temperature and high winds. It’s supposed to get as low as 6 tonight with a high of 16 tomorrow. Winter is definitely back and it looks to be staying put for awhile. And I sure wouldn’t mind it near as much if I hadn’t had to work at the school today and again tomorrow. At least I don’t have recess duty! Although with weather like this recess is inside.  Usually I hibernate during times like this. I light candles, do some baking and cook soups and casseroles, dig out my warmest sweatshirts and pile on the quilts. I love it! And there’s no better sleep than sleeping in the winter in a cold room with warm comfy jammies on, fleece sheets on the bed and lots of quilts piled on top. It’s wonderful!

Another plan for this year is to find more “projects” to do with Drew. He calls them projects and has so much fun doing them. This was a fun one and so in expensive. We dug out some jars and made a wheat paste out of flour and water. Then we brushed the paste onto the jars to look like icicles, sprinkled salt on the paste and let it dry. Poured some salt in the jars and added tea lights. Pretty wintery candle holders. Drew loved being able to tell Daddy he made the centerpiece on the table. We also brushed some of the paste onto pinecones from our yard and dipped them in salt. A fun, easy craft and the best part is the paste will wash right off with soap and water so we can reuse the jars for future projects! I got the instructions from sewhistorically.com.

Back To Basics

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. I know me and I know I just won’t keep them. But I have been doing a lot of thinking and researching lately on getting back to the basics. I really want to slow things down around here. Do a lot less running and spend more time at home. I want to cut down on our grocery spending.  I want to do more from scratch cooking and yet  I want to keep it simple too. I’m going to slowly work on stocking my pantry and my freezer with items to make spending time in the kitchen fun and yet quicker and easier so I have more time for other things. I also want to eat more wholesome foods and a lot less processed foods. I don’t really have a plan but I have picked up a few books to start reading and I’ve gotten some great ideas from blogs I like to follow.

I want to try new things in the kitchen. And so the other day I tried my hand at homemade bread. Have you ever read the ingredients in store bought bread? It’s scary. I had never made bread before but I took the plunge. And it was fun! And it filled the house with a delicious aroma! And my loaves looked beautiful (to me anyway)! And they tasted great! But, I didn’t let them cook long enough. They were a little doughy. On the bright side – a friend of mine stated she likes them that way – they toast up great in the toaster! So, I will put baking homemade bread down as a win for me and something I want to keep experiment with and do more often!

And I tried my hand at making homemade vanilla extract.  I had no idea how vanilla extract was made. I knew about the vanilla beans of course but had no idea it was just vanilla beans and extract. How easy. And the way they smell all ready – oh my! The hardest part is waiting the two months or more to see how it turned out! I have six bottles sitting in the back of a kitchen cupboard. I’m hoping to keep some and use others as gifts. I got my instructions and the beautiful labels from natashaskitchen.com. I used label paper I had here at home to print the labels onto and cut them out. Again, super easy! I plan to try my hand at making lemon and orange extract too.  And again – no extra, unnecessary ingredients. Just plain and simple and fresh!

Today and Friday I get to sub as an Associate at the elementary school. Something else I’m trying – I said get, not have to. It’s more fun to get to do something than to have to do something. It’s amazing how just changing the way you say something can change your outlook! So I get to sub at the school. Now, I do enjoy subbing and especially for the Associate I’m subbing for the next two days. I get to attend PE class with the preschoolers and library with them too. And I get to spend the majority of my day with different groups of children helping them with their reading skills. Of course, I love to read so reading with the students is just plain fun. I even get to spend a class period doing just that – reading. I oversee the class as they have quiet reading time and so I read too! It’s fun to get out and something different and rewarding once in awhile. And I get to see Drew throughout the day so that’s a plus too!

Linen and Needle and Thread

I’ve stitched for so many years I’ve lost count. My aunt taught me when I was a young girl and I’m so grateful to her for taking the time to teach me. I stitched on and off over the years and then for some reason I stopped for a few years. I just had no desire to pick up the needle. I did lots of other crafts and did lots and lots of scrapbooking for a time. I never thought I would get tired of scrapbooking but for some reason the desire just slowly went away. I have some beautiful books and we love to pull them out and look through them but now I hardly ever even print a picture.  I have so many pictures of Abby and even Aaron. Not as many of Eric but I still have way too many. And then Drew comes along and I had stopped taking and printing pictures. I started taking pictures again but I just don’t print them like I should.

Anyway, back to stitching. I picked up my needle again a few years ago and discovered stitching on linens and developed a love for the primitive patterns and the designers that are out there. Good bye Aida cloth and bright colors and cute designs. But along with this new love and more time to stitch again now that I only have Drew at home, I have run out of room for my creations. And I’m a pack rat and feel the need to keep everything so of course I can’t get rid of any of my creations!

Then I started following some primitive and country decorating pages on Facebook which led me to some primitive selling pages and I took the plunge. Joe has been pushing me for years to try and sell what I stitch but if it wasn’t for Facebook I don’t think I would ever have even tried. And low and behold – my creations sell! I’m not going to get rich by any means doing this but I can at least justify my stitching now. I’m not filling the house with unneeded creations and it’s not costing me anything to make what I do because I’m selling what I make. And now when I sit and stitch at night not only am I enjoying myself immensely I’m making others happy too! It’s a win win right??!!

Stitching is a form of therapy for me. To just sit quietly and pull thread through linen. The feel of it, the sound of it, and the creating process.  The beautiful colors of the threads and putting those threads together to make beautiful designs. And there’s something about the primitive designs that just tug on my soul. Their simplicity and dark muted colors. And then dying them in a coffee bath when I’m done stitching to make them even more muted. Picking out the perfect baking fabric – Civil War reproduction fabric is my fabric of choice. Just one more thing to draw me to the past just like these little pillow tucks, cupboard keeps, whatever you want to call them do. I like to think that even back in days gone by, even when our ancestors didn’t have much and they had to sew by hand out of necessity that they would stitch a little pin tuck and put a little primitive design on it to make it pretty to help lighten their load and have something pretty to adorn their home.  My stitching draws me to the past and gives me something pretty to adorn my home too – a little pillow tucked into a little bowl or the corner of a shelf. Just a little something to brighten the day!

Try Again

I’m going to try this again. I’m not sure why I stopped posting. It just happened. I stopped posting and I stopped reading all of my favorite blogs. I just stopped. I’ve been slowly following my favorite blogs again and I’m going to try this again. So here goes!

Such a pretty little thing!

The last couple of months of 2017 were very eventful. Our beautiful baby granddaughter whose due date was December 6th was born November 10th – on my mom’s birthday! Her mama’s health was not going well due to preeclampsia and the doctor decided to bring baby Bayah Lynn into the world early.  Thankfully after a two week stay in the hospital Bayah and mommy came home and are healthy and doing great. Bayah weighed 4 lbs. 3 oz. when she was born and she’s now over 6 lbs. She’s the prettiest little thing and is just perfect. And big brother Braxton is so in love with his baby sister. We are truly blessed. Braxton celebrated his 4th birthday at the hospital in the waiting room and he thought that was so much fun. He said it was the best birthday ever! Just goes to show kids don’t need big parties. He was just happy to have all his family, a cake and presents to open!

Then December came along. We lost my father-in-law the week before Christmas. He was 93 and doing great and then he came down with pneumonia and before we knew it he was gone. It happened so quickly and yet most of December was spent with my husband making the three hour drive to his hometown not knowing if his dad was going to make it or not. He would drive nights and spend nights there and drive back and forth. It was so hard to lose Albert but everyone was thankful he didn’t suffer and he was ready.

Sweet baby Babah – so little!

And then the flu hit. Poor Drew got sick at Grandpa’s visitation. Thankfully my dad and mom were there and were able to take Drew home with them. He missed Grandpa’s funeral but he just couldn’t have been there. Then I got sick, and Joe got sick, and Eric got sick, and Aaron got. Braxton was sick and Jeremy too. We postponed Christmas from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve Day. Then my dad and mom got sick. Mom ended up sick on New Year’s Eve Day and couldn’t celebrate with us but thankfully we had FaceTime and she was able to still be part of the fun.

 

Then the following week my sister got sick, her daughter Diamond got sick, my Abby got sick. Whew – it pretty much hit all of us except for baby Bayah. Thank goodness. Andrew and I went to Abby’s house on the coldest day of the winter so far, it was -17 out that morning, to watch the kiddos when she was sick. Iowa was the coldest area in the country that day and we broke a 100 year record with the cold. Normally I wouldn’t have stepped  a foot out of the house that day but when your baby needs help and you can provide it – off you go no matter what! I hated Abby being sick but it was fun to watch Uncle Drew and Braxton have fun and get to cuddle and love on Bayah all day!

Uncle Eric and baby Bayah

We are now all on the mend and ready to take on the new year! We’ve had bitterly cold weather and beautiful snow and a heat wave of 38 degrees today! My poor chickens are so glad to be out and about in the yard today. No eggs of course but that’s to be expected. Drew has been going stir crazy stuck in the house and then no recess at school due to the cold. Yesterday they had recess and he was actually tired and ready for bed last night! I’ve started a few projects around here and have plans to get a lot more done. I’ve been stitching and selling my cupboard tucks which has been so much fun. Joe went hunting over the weekend and had a great time. His nephew Mike came down and hunted and spent the night Friday night. That was a lot of fun. They hunted with our son-in-law Jeremy, Jeremy’s dad and Jeremy’s brother-in-law. Joe and Mike didn’t get deer but they had fun. That’s the main reason for hunting I think. To get out and spend the day walking the timbers and being together. A deer is great and I appreciate the meat too but I’m glad the guys get to do this together every year.

Drew reading to big brother Aaron

Then last night after work Joe went over to Dad and Mom’s and hunted. Still no deer but Mom fixed chili for supper and Drew and I went over for that. After supper we played games with Drew and dad gave me a box of goodies. He’s been doing this lately. Giving me things now and then that he knows I will treasure and love. Earlier he sent me home with his first toolbox.  No tools of course – he still needs those and I sure don’t – but I love this tool box. It’s the one I remember him using when I was growing up. It’s beat up and rusty and chippy and perfect. I love it! I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my box of treasures yet. A few things I’ll display, the rest I’ll store away. And hopefully I’ll be able to keep Drew out of it as he loves to sort through boxes of anything!

Hi Drew!

Glad To Be Home

Wow – the last four days went fast and boy am I glad for a day to chill at home. Subbing at the school on Thursday and Friday took a lot out of me. I enjoyed the first day but the second was exhausting. Nothing much different between the two days – just takes a lot out of me subbing as an Associate. I never know what classroom I’ll be in or what I’ll be doing and it’s different every time. This time I was with a child new to the school with a behavior disorder so it was a learning experience for me, for the child and for the teacher. And I get to go back this Thursday and Friday for the same child. The school is looking for a full time Associate but in the meantime they are taking turns with different Associates subbing. I had volunteered with the Color Run this Friday but agreed to work instead. I’m hoping I can still spend some time with Drew during the Color Run. Last Friday was Homecoming and I got to see Drew during the parade and the pep rally which was nice. Eric came home too for the weekend and for Homecoming. He requested meatloaf, potatoes and corn for supper for Friday night so that’s what we had. He’s a tad spoiled!

Saturday was spent with Abby and Braxton at the Kalona Fall Festival. It was lots of fun. We walked through the festival and the boys spent quite a bit of time playing in the corn area. That area is a favorite – kids love playing in shelled corn with buckets and shovels! After eating a lunch of homemade tacos and pie made by a Mennonite group we took the boys to the park and let them play. And then back to Abby’s house and more play time for the boys! It was a great day.

I had thought Sunday we would be staying home but Dad called and Joe went over there to help Dad start one of his tractors. Then Mom called and asked if Drew and I would want to come over for lunch so off we went. After that we headed home and spent the afternoon outside building a run for the chickens. I love having them free range but between them destroying my flower beds and the last few days deciding to cross the gravel road and wander in the neighbor’s pasture we decided we needed to pen them in. The neighbors don’t care if they wander over there but we don’t want them getting hit on the road. By the time we quit working on that it was getting late so we ran to town for supper at the Pizza Ranch. It had been months since we’d eaten there and it was a nice change of pace.

Today Drew and I aren’t feeling the best. I think I probably caught something from being at the school. That usually happens. And Drew has been fighting a cold. Today was a teacher in service day so no school so Drew got to sleep in and now he’s crashed on the couch watching cartoons. And I’m glad to have a day at home. No running anywhere, no plans. I’ll spend the day getting the house in order, working on laundry which hasn’t been touched for the past four days and chilling with Drew.  A great way to start the week!

Busy Week

This week has turned out to be a busy one. Yesterday saw me walking, then home to do laundry. Lots and lots of laundry. Cleaning out the chicken coop and taking care of the cats we brought home Sunday evening. They are in the shop but they won’t come out when we are in there. Hopefully they will be a little braver today. Then Dad and Mom came over with some apples to share and to see the cats. They stayed and chatted until dark.

Today I’m up early – no earlier than usual but I’m heading to Kalona to meet Abby. I’m going with her to a doctor’s appointment in Iowa City. Jeremy couldn’t take time off work so I volunteered to tag along. Nothing is wrong, just checking for gestational diabetes. I had it with my second two pregnancies and am hoping she doesn’t but since she didn’t pass the first test I won’t be surprised if this one comes out positive. So, I get to spend some quality time with her today which will be nice.

Tomorrow should be pretty normal. Nothing specific planned anyway. Just normal routine. Although I do need to do something with the apples Mom brought over. And I finished stitching my Fancey Blackett I working on so I need to decide on a finish for her. I love those days! Then Thursday and Friday I’m subbing at the elementary school. Friday is homecoming so that should be fun – the kids will be all excited to go see the parade. Not sure I know what I’m getting myself into! It’s nice to visit the school now and again to see how things are run and to get to know the teachers. Especially with Drew there. And he likes having me there. There will come a time when having his mom working at the school once in awhile won’t be so fun but for now he thinks it’s awesome!

And best of all – it’s supposed to be ten degrees cooler today than yesterday and then it’s supposed to drop down into the 60s. Yeah – hopefully fall is here!

Hot Camping Weekend

Usually at the end of September camping is ideal. You plan for chilly evenings and cool mornings, sweatshirts and jeans and camp fires. Instead we had record breaking hot temperatures and mosquitos. This might have been the most uncomfortable trip we’ve had this season. But we still had a fun weekend. It’s impossible not to have fun when you’re camping!

We camped with Dad and Mom in Pella this time. We were able to leave early afternoon Friday as school was let out early due to the heat. Friday was spent setting up camp, eating supper and going for a walk. We went on a hike on Saturday and came across our neighbors who were camping in a neighboring campground. We stopped and had a nice long visit with them and Drew got to play with their granddaughter. We were walking a nice paved trail under the trees and it was beautiful. Our campsites were also in the trees – my favorite way to camp. I could open up all the shades and not worry that people could see in. We decided we liked this spot the best of the ones we’ve been in – it was so secluded. Of course the majority of the trees surrounding us were hickory trees so we had hickory nuts falling on us. They make quite a racket when they hit the roof of your camper!

I loved the way the light bounced off the leaves of the trees and into the camper. With the air on in the camper – it kind of felt like fall with the leaves falling, the hickory nuts bouncing and the light filtering through the windows!