31 January 2015

Pick Up Chicks

After finding someone nearby who was selling chicks at a reasonable price, I set up a time to swing by and pick them up. Then I texted Jack, "Do you want to go with me Saturday morning to pick up some chicks? We'd have to leave about 7am." Apparently he was snickering with his coworkers (Hey--my wife just asked if I wanted to go pick up chicks with her) and after some jovial teasing where I completely forgot the slang use of chicks, he agreed to go with me to pick up poultry. Hey, when I say chicks, I mean baby chickens.
Ready for the drive home.
We let the girls all pick their own then got a couple extra and it seems we've ended up with a barred rock, Rhode Island red, a black sex-link and two unknown white chicks who should manifest their breeding soon enough. Originally I thought Leghorns which are good layers, but they've got some extra coloring in their feathers that has made me second guess.
Getting settled in.
Now they are safe and sound at home and since they were born in the winter, they'll be ready to lay eggs in early spring throughout mid-autumn. The girls are excited to have some cute chicks for a while and I'm excited for the pending collection of fresh eggs.
Feeding frenzy.

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30 January 2015

Little Angel Gowns

A beautiful example of one of their dresses for an infant girl.
Recently, I attended an area meeting for women in church leadership positions. After a bit of training, we broke into groups for brief presentations, one of which was for Little Angel Gowns. The premise of the group makes me teary-eyed every time I think of it: they take donated wedding dresses and turn them into burial gowns for babies who have passed away.
Taking my wedding dress for one last ride.
So, naturally, I packed up my wedding gown and headed there to donate it shortly after learning about them. It was a little bittersweet handing over my gown because of the happy memories it invokes. However, I can tell you I haven't worn it once since we were married eight years ago. I'm glad it will be used in another very important and touching way.
Ten to fifteen burial outfits can be made from each dress.
While there, we had a tour and were in awe of the volunteers who make the whole thing happen. there are dozens and dozens of dresses to be converted into burial outfits so we signed up and took one of them home and over the weekend, will be sewing away. I was also pleased to hear that if their gowns aren't already available at nearby funeral homes or hospitals, that grieving families can simply call and they will overnight an outfit to them.
If you know of anyone who would benefit from their services, you'd like to donate your dress or sew for them, visit LittleAngelGowns.org or visit their Facebook Page.

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27 January 2015

The Master and The Apprentices

Evelyn brought home a flier about her school's talent show and as I read off all the things she could participate in--singing, dancing, magic tricks--she cut me off with a very stern, curt, "I'm not doing that." However, when I mentioned she could submit artwork, her eyes lit up and she immediately agreed to paint something.
After a few days of preparation, deciding what she was going to create, sketching the rough outline and gathering materials, she spent a rigorous Saturday painting her masterpiece, entitled, Rainbow the Alicorn (if you have no idea what an alicorn is, don't fret--I didn't either until we watched the My Little Ponies series about 8,000 times. An alicorn is a unicorn who also has pegasus-like wings).
If watching her intently paint wasn't adorable enough, it was hilarious watching her sisters sit quietly and listen to her narrating her work. The master was indeed teaching the apprentices.

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25 January 2015

Always an Adventure

Jack and I recently celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. If I had to sum up what it's like being married to him, I'd say it's like being married to a grown-up Peter Pan (think of Robin Williams in Hook after he returns from Neverland). There is never a dull moment with Jack.
Racing each other to the Children's museum entrance.
With Jack, there is always an adventure. Sometimes those adventures are fun and exciting, other times they're difficult, heartbreaking and troublesome. Still, Jack makes everything bearable, more entertaining and has a wonderful way of putting things into perspective. Eight years of marriage didn't just happen to us: it came with a lot of personal growth, forgiveness, patience, learning to laugh and never losing sight of what's important.
We had the carousel alllll to ourselves!
One thing I love about Jack is that though he has a childlike sense of humor and is always up for fun, he didn't hesitate to grow up. Growing up, it turns out, is the real adventure. He was excited to be married and didn't dilly dally the process once we both knew we could live happily with each other and he welcomed being a father once Evelyn, Claire and Kate decided to come along.
Jack trying on one of Evelyn's outfits.
Though he's in a sea of girls, he doesn't treat them any differently than he would if they were his sons. They help stack wood, learn about car repairs, help tile, hand him tools and have an all around good time with him. And though Jack and I love working alongside one another, there is never any question that Jack holds me as the queen of the home and treats me accordingly.
The beautiful wind chime Jack got me this year after mne was decommissioned in a wind storm.
Jack knew when he met me that I had a fascination with animals, particularly horses. Though we haven't been able to afford a mansion to go along with a plot of land, he always works hard to make our rundown homes beautiful and comfortable for his family. It would have been easy for him to put his foot down and refuse to buy not one, but two fixer-uppers simply because they could accommodate a small farm and tell me to get rid of the horses. Instead, he meekly answers, "As you wish." Seriously. He says that to me all the time.
Cutting wood for our wood burning stove and clearing some shade over our garden.
Eight years isn't very long when you think about it but in our faith, we believe that families can be together forever. That's a long time. And I couldn't imagine existing for eternity without Jack as my companion.
Dancing with Kate and Evie.
Happy Anniversary Jack!

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24 January 2015

One Down

Dancer's plain but pretty.
I set a goal for myself to work the horses fifty-two times this year. I admit I have a bad habit of keeping horses in the backyard, thinking I'll just get everything done on my to do list done before I go out and enjoy the my big, beautiful equines. We all know how that goes though: by eight thirty at night when the girls are in bed, I've done all the chores I can muster for the day, it's dark and I'm tired and I still didn't go out and work the horses.
After several reminders, she remembered that she does not get to stand by me with her head straight up.
So, I figured if I averaged once a week, it'd be a good start. It'd be about twice the number of times I worked them last year and surely I can afford a hour every week to enjoy something that most people can't. They're in my back yard for crying out loud!
Dancer enjoys her grooming.
I started today. Dance was my victim partner and with the springlike weather, she was feisty and wide-eyed, like she was going to gallop off any minute in search of a herd of wild mustangs. Our workout today included a good grooming, reminding her who's the boss, to walk with her head lower than mine (a dominance thing among horses) and how to turn, respond to aides and stand while being tied. It wasn't the most rigorous session with her I've ever had but it's always good to start slow when it's obvious she's all but forgotten everything she ever learned.

One down, fifty-one to go.

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21 January 2015

Sap

Let maple syrup season begin!
Kate and Claire helping.
With the weather cooperating earlier in the year for the maple sap to flow (below freezing at night, above freezing during the day), Jack took the girls out to tap the trees a little earlier than last year.
All of this...
We didn't start saving milk jugs quite soon enough but we're making due. He tapped the most productive trees first and will go down the line until they're all tapped.
...boils down to this!
Pancakes, anyone?

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16 January 2015

To Side or Not To Side

The back of the house is sad! So do we side it or paint it like the front deck?
I worked really hard this spring, summer and fall to get about 80% of the house painted and the siding fixed. This monstrous house (and equally intimidating deck) is no small feat! But, the front and both sides are looking tremendously better thanks to some new siding, rocks and fresh paint. That leaves only the back to do and as shown above, it'll be another big undertaking. which begs the question: to side or not to side???
A view from the front, featuring both siding and the interesting deck feature.
The front features two types of exterior coverings. We decided to side the great room face while leaving the deck as it was and paint it, using a contrasting paint to highlight the trim. So, A) we could side the back of the house or B) paint it in a similar fashion to the deck but would that be too much going on? Or would it be an interesting way to decorate the exterior using a unique design?
A view of the deck (similar to how the back of the house is designed). Paint it like the deck or side over it???
We'd love to hear your thoughts so when the weather warms up, we can hit the ground running!

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15 January 2015

Green Carpet

It's nice to see a bit of green in the middle of winter!
The only place I like green carpet is when it's growing outside.

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12 January 2015

All Tucked In

All tucked in for the duration of winter.
Before the latest cold snap, Jack cut and situated some thick insulation so the bees would be all cozy and warm. And as a treat and for our peace of mind, the bees came out for a breath of fresh air on a warm day just to let us know they were okay.
Or at least that's what it looked like...

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11 January 2015

Cinnamon Crumb Cake

My sister Jenny gave me a compiled recipe book for Christmas and I've already marked a few that look delicious. The first we tried was the cinnamon crumb cake--a simpler version of a quick (yet delectable) coffee cake. It was so good, we had it twice as a side to our soup dinners in a week. And maybe a slice for breakfast too...

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup sifted flour plus 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Beat wet ingredients together until well blended. Combine with the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Pour into a greased 9x9 pan. Combine butter, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, mixing with a pastry cutter until small crumbs. Sprinkle over the batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot or cooled.
Enjoy!


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07 January 2015

Chocolate Chipmunk

Claire misunderstood the other night when I told her she could have three pieces of candy--she thought that meant she had to eat them all at once.
Our very own chocolate chipmunk.

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06 January 2015

Savings

The girls were so excited to hold their very own money.
First goal of the year crossed off the list: we opened the girls each their own savings account!

How are your goals coming along?

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04 January 2015

Sunday Painting

Trying out all the different colors Santa brought the girls.
Since I've already admitted I'm a painting addict, I'm might as well mention that I also paint on Sunday...it's just a different type of painting.
Occasionally Raven gets roped into the beauty routine too. She's just one of the girls.

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