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!

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 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!

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!

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!

A Little Bit of Fall Decorating

I was soooo sore after walking yesterday. I think we might have overdone it a tad – four miles right out of the gate! But, after walking this morning I’m loosened up and feel much better. Still sore but it will only get better from here right??!! Yesterday afternoon, instead of working on Drew’s room like I had planned, I got some fall decorations out. Every year I do less and less and this year is no exception. I’m mostly using my stitched stuff. The less I get out, the less I have to put away later and the less cluttered the house looks right!

More Black

Looking at this picture, I think it needs some distressing and some staining. That will have to wait though – too much going on, at this week. No fun crafty projects for awhile.

I think I shouldn’t be allowed to have black paint. I’m not sure why I bought this cupboard due to the color. It’s green. Not a color that I decorate with. But I do like the cupboard. It’s solid and very well made and I love the make do handle. Due to the color though I had stored it away and had not used it for a few years. Then recently I brought it out but was just not happy with it because of the color. Then I thought, why not paint it black! And I love it. It fits in with my black bench in the dining room. But now I have to decide whether to leave it like this or to distress and stain it. I’ll live with it for awhile before deciding. In the meantime, I wonder what else I can paint black??!!

Rain Beautiful Rain and Packing For Tomorrow

We are getting rain today – lots of beautiful rain! It’s dark outside and thundering and sweatshirt wearing cool and rain! After being in a severe drought this is oh so welcome. Our yards are dry and brittle and full of cracks. Everything green has turned to brown. The crops in the fields are suffering. We’ve been trying to watch our water usage due to having a well. Our “chance of thunder storms” has turned into this beautiful beautiful rain that looks like it might actually stick around for awhile. We will take all we can get!

I might not be ready for Eric to move out but I am ready for this pile to be gone out of my dining room!

Today will see us packing. We take Eric to college tomorrow. Sending your child off to college is so bittersweet. You’re so excited for them and this new journey in their life and yet at the same time you’re sending your baby off into the big old world. It’s scary and knowing you’re not going to see them every day. Eric was my baby for 12 years and we definitely thought he was always to be the baby. I spoiled him I’m afraid more than I did the other two because he was the baby and he was that much younger than Abby and Aaron. But, he’s ready for this. And we are so very proud of the person he has become. He’s focused and has plans and he knows what he wants. Now it’s time for him to start on the next step in making those dreams come true. And he’s only going to be an hour away so I really can’t complain – I can visit whenever I want!

Photo #8

August 4, 2017 – We need rain. We are now in a severe drought area. We had approximately 1/2 an inch of rain this week but hadn’t had anything for so long that the little we got didn’t do anything to help.
June 8, 2017
Ma7 3, 2017 – The sun is shining, the trees are budding out. It’s looking like spring! First day in almost a week with sunshine.
April 3, 2017 – Overcast skies but the yard is greening up. Joe has rolled it and run the mower over it already.
March 3, 2017
February 3, 2017
January 3, 2017


Recipe Wall

I finished a project today that I have been working on for awhile. I gathered up recipe cards handwritten by family members and framed them in little vintage frames. After getting my cupboards painted I decided it was time to put everything together and hang them. So far I have a card from my mom, my mother-in-law, my Grandma Houseal and my Step-Grandma Houseal. My aunt is looking to see if she has one from Grandma Ward and I’ve asked her if I could get one with her handwriting too. I love decorating with anything family and what’s more family than handwritten recipe cards from your loved ones. I’m afraid recipe cards are becoming a thing of the past. The same with cookbooks. It’s so much easier to get on Pinterest, find a recipe and print it off. I find myself doing this all the time. But they just aren’t the same as a handwritten card. Now I have something to look at when I’m doing dishes that reminds me of the many wonderful meals I’ve had, cooked by the wonderful women that have been and/or still are in my life. Cherished memories for sure!

I found this postcard in one of the frames. You never know what you’re going to find when you take apart an old frame. I always keep the things I find. I put this postcard back in the frame behind one of the recipes.
I love the different handwriting. Cursive is becoming obsolete and yet its so pretty and personal. My mom and her moms writing looks so similar. My mother-in-law hated her handwriting. She was left handed and when she was learning to write she said the nuns would tie her left hand behind her back and make her use her right.

A Road Trip, A Visit, And A Walk Around The Yard

This is where we’ll be on Labor Day

This weekend has sure flown by. We decided to road trip on Friday and head up to northern Iowa and check out the campground we’re going to be staying at over Labor Day. Where we have had excessive heat and no rain, they’ve had excessive rain and storms. They were working on cleaning up downed trees and downed power lines and it was raining while we were there but they were super nice people and I think we’re going to have fun staying here!

Saturday saw us heading south to Lake Rathbun. My sister was camping and asked us to come spend the day. So, off we went for a nice, relaxing afternoon and evening spending time in another campground! We have camped at Lake Rathbun but never at Island View and what a beautiful campground. We would like to stay there sometime – it was so nice. Beautiful views of the lake, huge sites and playgrounds in the middle so you can sit at your site and watch the kids play. Perfect when you have littles!

When life is not coming up roses look to the weeds and find the beauty hidden within them.” –L.F. Young

Today the temps and humidity broke a little and Drew and I and the chickens took a nice walk around the yard. My flowers are really suffering from the heat and lack of rain but the wildflowers are abundant. Drew picked me a beautiful bouquet that we’re enjoying in the house. I am amazed at some of the beautiful wildflowers in this area. Many consider them weeds but they brighten up the landscape with so many beautiful colors. I love them!