Babies, Puppies, Flowers and Bees

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I went MIA last week. I believe I mentioned that we would be keeping one of our grandkids over the weekend. What I did not know until Thursday (when I normally write my posts) is that their new puppy would be coming along too. Now, I can usually juggle normal chores with a baby, but a baby and a puppy is a whole different thing. Add to the list that the puppy has some health issues and requires medication and baby + puppy = full time job. So last Thursday I went into high gear to finish any major projects/chores before Friday evening.

Even with DH and DN to help out, we had our hands full because the puppy kept us up several hours Friday night. Saturday we were exhausted all day but you can’t rest much with a baby and a puppy. Luckily both got a nap or two in. The baby was easy peasy the whole weekend. She was just the normal active 9 month old cruising the furniture and crawling around. The puppy on the other hand was cruising around trying to find more things to get into than the baby. He especially seemed to like chewing on our kitchen cabinet pulls! If you have ever had a baby/toddler and/or a puppy you know that if you can’t see them or hear them then you better be finding them ASAP!

Saturday night was slightly better. DH and I were out walking puppy and our dog at 3:30 am, but we got some sleep. Sunday night there were three people and one old dog that slept like the dead after baby and puppy left. Our dog, Odie, was a trooper the whole weekend. He tolerated the baby pulling his ears and poking her fingers up his nose and the puppy not only sat down on him, but took his bed part of the time. Odie just gave me a look that said “I didn’t sign up for this!”.

This week I am in gardening mode, attic work and beekeeping. I really think the months between April – October I need to call this blog “Bees, Babies and Blooms”. That pretty much covers most of what I am doing instead of artwork. I have a list I am trying to get to, but it’s a challenge right now. Next weekend we have another grandkid coming to stay so if I’m MIA next week then you know why.

Yes, it is really this purple!

The photos are of many of the lovely blooms happening here. We have spent almost a year and a half of uncovering flower beds and shrubs and trees from layers and layers of ivy (poison and English!), honeysuckle, and wild grapevines. Under all these vines have been so many lovely plants and flowers. This Spring has been more surprising than last Spring as we have uncovered more irises, lilies and old roses. We still have more to go and I have lots of thinning to do because these plants are so excited to see daylight again that they are bursting at the seams in places.

Have a great week and I plan to be back next week, but you know…babies, blooms and bees are happening here.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

And winter returned!

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I’m late this week. I’m going to blame it on the weather. What the heck? Another late season frost similar to last year. I spent time covering up little plants, bringing potted plants inside and cutting flowers to enjoy as long as possible. I’m glad I hadn’t gotten around to packing up the hats and gloves yet. They were needed on the past few late night / early morning walks with the dog. Like 2:30 am or 4:00 am walks. I think his seizure meds are messing things up. Thanks to these walks I have also been groggy and slower than usual.

I had to bring them ALL in!

I forgot to mention that I have new bees too. My brother-in-law very kindly gave me one of the splits he made from one of his hives and also a nuc he made from a swarm I believe. I don’t have the second one here yet, but am going tomorrow to meet the queen. She will probably be moving here in about a week. So I may have spent more than the usual amount of time watching the new girls and keeping them fed with sugar water. I don’t know how things are at your house, but here, 75% of my time is spent feeding things…humans, creatures and plants. There should be a tax write off somewhere in there.

A note to our neighbors…our lawn mower is being repaired. It’s going to take 3-4 weeks to get it back. Yes, the yard will be bad. Don’t panic if you see horses loose in the yard. They might as well earn their keep and mow some grass.

Today has been rainy and cold. Perfect attic construction weather. I spent several hours painting the walls that are up and DH is still up there putting up more drywall. There are some seriously wonky corners, dips and angles. Not easy on 50+ year old backs and shoulders. Some things will have to wait until lumber prices come down. We were going to frame out the window, but one small board to make the window sill was going to be $14! It can wait. DH estimates 2 more months of work. That would be about my birthday. I would be quite happy to have a finished studio for my birthday.

Slowly but surely.

Yesterday morning I helped with a yard sale and by the time I got home the allergies were full on. I got what had to be done taken care of then decided to take some time to do a little painting while my head recovered. It has been about 3 weeks since I have worked in any drawing or painting. It may not help my allergies, but it sure helps my mental health. I am hoping this coming week to clean up the corner of the attic that is 95% done and maybe move a table and easel in where I can start working. Fingers crossed. Next weekend we have one of the grandkids so I know we will not get much accomplished while she’s here.

This week’s sketch.

Have a great week. I hope your weather is warm. Some of you have storms heading your way I think. Be safe out there and I hope to be back on Thursday.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Spring has sprung!

Hi Everyone!

Hopefully your week is as beautiful as ours. This is going to be a quick hello and some lovely photos of the blooms happening here. My son and his girlfriend are back for a short visit before he starts the firefighting academy in May. I have been trying to get my To Do list done before they got here so I could spend time catching up with them.

Most of my week has been spent doing garden related activities and looking after many, many seedling babies. We have been excited to see many of the plants we uncovered from layers and layers of honeysuckle, poison ivy and unknown other vines, now blooming their hearts out. The old apple trees bloomed much heavier after having a major pruning last year. Hopefully they will give us some apples now.

Call me a little Woo Woo, but I truly think plants, just like people, know when you are trying to help them. We have one little azalea that I was absolutely sure was dead when I discovered it under the vines. I pruned back the dead branches that I could manage and planned to have DH cut it completely down, but before he could get to it, little leaves started to pop out. It is now blooming away and will probably be full and lush next year.

There is still a ton to do, but this Spring is definitely the encouragement we needed to keep pulling up weeds, over grown flower beds, and aggressive vines (never, ever, ever plant English Ivy!!). The hummingbirds have been doing fly bys to let me know they expect food from the feeder and the butterflies are loving all the blooms.

I have no idea where all the honeybees are coming from since my colony died and I’m waiting to get my new one. Everywhere here we have honeybees. Now, we do not spray pesticides and yes we have weeds, but those weeds feed the bees. I’m hoping there are wild bees in the woods behind us. If they are thriving in the wild that means they are overcoming the mite infestation that has devastated the honeybee population. I’m very happy to see they and they are always welcome. It’s a good idea to keep your shoes on when walking in the yard though.

I gotta go make food for people and hummingbirds. Have a wonderful week.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Dad, the girls are ok.

Hi Everyone!

Did anyone do any drawing last week? Guess what. I didn’t. Yes, you can slap me on the wrist. Spring is springing and around here that means all sorts of things are ramping up all at once. Happens every year in March.

We are still working on the attic. Slowly, but surely walls are going up. I have run out of primer and need to make a paint run before Saturday. The colder, wetter days are now attic days. I have been trying to do some cleaning out and reorganizing while waiting for paint to dry.

Seed planting and garden maintence have started. Weed pulling and general outdoor cleanup has been started. Our place was pretty much neglected and overgrown for years before we bought it so we are constantly picking different areas that have to have major brush, vine and weed removal.

Top all this off with DN playing in the high school band and making the soccer team. The football season was pushed to winter/spring so she has band practice and/or soccer practice and games every evening. I am still the taxi. It is a bittersweet moment when a teen gets their driver’s license. The parent is simultaniously terrified and joyous. DN is taking driver’s ed now and will have her permit in the summer. I am one year away from freaking out at every siren sound, running to the phone when it rings and losing sleep until I hear the car pull in. That doesn’t even cover the terrifiying moments in the passenger seat while a newbie driver is at the wheel. Real aging doesn’t happen until you survive teenagers!

March is the beginning of beekeeping season too. During the winter all you can do is make sure the girls have lots of food and hope for the best. March brings happy dances when you see the girls flying again or grief when you realize a colony didn’t survive the winter. If you have several hives these emotions can happen altogether. I got to do my happy dance yesterday. I had seen my girls flying before yesterday, but March is when many hives die from starvation. It was warm enough for me to open the hive and check their food stores. We still have some cold days and nights to go and not much is blooming yet. Unless something weird and dreadful happens, my girls should be good to go for another year.

I like to sit and just watch the bees going and coming. It’s peaceful and confirmation that despite the crazy in the world things are still in God’s order. Today especially I plan to sit with the bees. Today is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 86. He was a life long beekeeper and when I was a girl one of my jobs was to help him with the bees. At the time I didn’t pick up much actual beekeeping knowledge other than be very careful where you pick up a frame of honey, but the smell of beeswax always sucks me right back to that time. Dad gave me my first hive of bees a few years ago and helped me get set up. I had no idea I would enjoy their company so much. Now I know why he would often go and watch the bees.

Happy Birthday Dad! The girls are ok. The bees and your human ones. I love you.

Have a great week everyone!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Featured photo was taken by yours truly when my Dad was setting up my first hive of bees for me in 2016. The second picture was taken by my sister on Dad’s 84th and last birthday in 2019.

The best laid plans

Hi Everyone,

Let’s talk planning. Are you a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants person? I’m an uber planner married to a flyer. Every day I get up and look in my planner at my pre-planned plan and am ready to start checking those items off. Almost everyday since Christmas those plans have been thwarted, misconjoled, bumfuzzeled and thrown out the window. Between the crazy of the school schedule and the fact that my DH’s employer took the whole month of January off, nothing has gone as planned and I will soon be pushed over the planner’s edge.

Granted, we have gotten several projects done that needed to be done, but all at the expense of my daily plans. Sooooooo, I am at least two weeks behind on artwork I had planned out and listing items in my eBay and Etsy stores. The weather has had some influence on the plans as well. Yesterday I just threw out the day’s entire list because the weather was warm and sunny. We have not had many of those and I desperately needed some Vitamin D. Instead of paying the bills and photographing artwork, I pruned Mom’s apple trees, cleaned out some of my bee supplies, etc. Anything to be outside.

Today I am working through yesterday’s list because winter returned with a cold wind and we are barely above freezing. Unfortunately we did not get any of the predicted snow. Tomorrow we have one of the grands for the day so I have minimal plans made. Maybe Saturday I can get caught up.

Once again I have moved my pile of art supplies. Now that DS and Girlfriend have moved out, I have again migrated to the guest room. It’s still not optimal, but the lighting is much better. The positive side of DH being home for a month is that serious progress has been made on my attic studio. I would go take more photos but it’s freezing up there at the moment. One section is drywalled and mudded. He is at this moment building some doors to cover some storage areas. When he has that done I can actually go up and start painting walls and organizing some supplies.

That’s my update for this week. Not much artsy stuff, but our garden has a layer of fresh compost, my new bee yard is set up, our lower pasture has been bush hogged for future fencing, I have picture ledges installed in our hallway for family pictures, we have discovered a farmer we can get raw milk from, I made butter and farmer’s cheese and Mom’s apple trees are pruned. It’s been crazy, but I guess I can’t complain about my plans going awry.

Stay safe and throw out the plans occasionally.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Photo by Renáta-Adrienn on Unsplash

Transitions

Hi Everyone,

I hope you and yours are doing well. Those of you still dealing with lockdowns, hang in there. Try to find things you enjoy to relieve the boredom and stress. For those of you who are sick or have family/friends who are sick there are thoughts and prayers for you all as well as those who have lost loved ones during this mess. For my fellow Americans on this Inauguration Day, I am praying for an end to the division in our country and that the transition to a new administration will be peaceful. We really should have advanced more as human beings than to once again resort to violence to solve our problems.

Life here at Crooked Barn Farm (We are seriously considering that as a name for our place. I will show you why one day.) has ungone another transition. Dear Son and Girlfriend have set out on their own again. Hopefully some tenative plans they have will gel soon and I will give an update. It’s much quieter here. Not that they were loud, but the general comings and goings of two other people add to the energy of a place. I’m going to miss them, but it was time. Dear Niece will definitely miss them because DH and I are boring old folks to her.

Yesterday the weather was warm enough for DH and me to work a little in the garden and do other outside projects. I try to soak in any Vitamin D I can get this time of year. Next week is looking like cold and rain again.

I am continuing to paint more wood boards. The flowers in the main photo is my most recent. Possibly this week I will get some listed in my Etsy store. More exciting is that I have walls going up in my studio. DH has been hard at work in there. Since we are having to buy the drywall a little at a time, the plan is to finish the far end and work across. Theoretically when that end is painted (my job) and the window framed out, I can actually start setting up my work space and possibly do some work up there. The lighting is going to be a little tricky and I really need that working to be able to function up there. Progress though!

Hopefully by Spring the worse of it will be done and I can dig out my oil paint and canvas again. There was some organization of my supplies in that mess, but now that DH has had to move boxes around, I have no idea where stuff is. It will be an adventure.

That’s all the news for now. Hopefully things will stay peaceful and quiet here and out there in the world. Stay safe.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Home

Hi Everyone,

I’m doing my best to get back to a schedule again.  I did not realize just how out of sorts I have been over the past few months until I started working on a new routine around here.  Still plenty of crazy going on, but hopefully after this coming weekend we will be moving toward normal again. We got that last darn storage unit cleaned out! I have cleaned out our dining room twice now.  It is serving as the launch pad for all the stuff since we don’t currently have a dining table. One more big pile to go. Somewhere in all the boxes are my art supplies.  I have missed them and hope to spend quality time with them again soon.

You will see and hear more about our new home over time because much of my time and creativity will be going into it for a while, but I wanted to fill you in on our story with this house.  Warning…another long post.

Right after our house went under contract and we went into panic mode to find a place to rent while we were building a new house (the one that didn’t happen) a friend suggested contacting the owners of our now home because no one was currently living in it. Initially we did just that, but they did not want renters. Then on the long drive back to our place we realized that very likely the property had everything we needed and a lot of what we wanted.  We then called them back and asked if they would be willing to sell the property to us.

Now, maybe you don’t believe in Divine Intervention, but the way the whole thing fell in place certainly makes us believe in it.  Without all the long details, the owners wanted time to discuss it. In the meantime we found a place to rent that worked out beautifully for us. Next the owners called us to come by and discuss the possible purchase.  We walked through the house and around the property, realizing it not only had what we needed, but everything that was on our “have to have” list and our “want” list!  They gave us a price and their bottom line of what they were or weren’t willing to do for the sale. In about a two minute time span, D. and I took a MAJOR leap of faith and agreed to their terms.  The owners, who had been former horse owners, also made us the offer to let us keep our horses on the property while we were renting for FREE! Anyone who has boarded a horse, much less four horses and a donkey, knows what that is worth.

So, we now had a place to rent for the four months the owners requested for the closing, a place for the horses that did not require us to bulldoze land or move my sister and brother-in-law’s llamas, only 5 minutes from our rental. Whew! Major relief. If you have been reading here this summer you know it was not all fun and games as we moved and settled one property to purchase this one, but all in all it came together with perfect timing along with my Dad’s decline.  We were here, 5 minutes from the family and able to help Mom, etc.

This house and property holds a special, happy place in my heart.  My parents’ house is right across the road. The original owners were like extra grandparents to me and this property was my well worn trail as a little girl to visit my friends across the street and up on the hill. Mr. Wade and Miz (our local Southern title for adult ladies, married or not) Doris had this place neat as a pin and there was always a cheerful greeting from one or both of them. Sometimes cookies were offered and accepted as well!

The house has not been occupied for a few years and has seen some neglect.  We have our work cut out for us to return it to its former glory (not sure we can get it completely there, but plan to give it our best shot). Still, we are in love with it. The house is well thought out with tons of storage and vintage charm. It was built in 1955.  Mr. Wade built rock walls and edging all over the place.  There was an orchard and I just planted six new apple trees in it again. We have more out buildings than we ever dreamed of and all the critters are happily settled in…except the chickens…they will be at the family barn for a while yet until we get a new house built for them.

Here are a few pictures.  Before and after (so far) of the front of the house and some surprises we have found in our short time here.  Have a great week.  This week I plan to be in Charleston for Halloween with the grandbaby, but might be able to squeeze in a post before I go…or after with cute Halloween overload!

The last photo is where we started from on the front of the house.  It was so grown up you could barely see there was a house and the left side and bay window were completely covered. Since the first photo was made we have also cut down most of the big holly bush.  We have a long list of things to do, but we are finally in and don’t really have anything we have to rush to do…except the barn.  More on that later. Winter is coming and horses need stalls.

 

On to the bread box

Hi Everyone,

I apologize for missing last week.  By the time I had time to write, I was too exhausted and escaped into YouTube and Pinterest for what little brain power I had left.

Let’s see, where did I leave off in the ongoing and going and going saga of our epic move?  As of Friday, July 26th, we had been moving for one month and 26 days! If we weren’t physically carrying boxes and furniture, we were doing repairs, sorting, trying to find things and cleaning up. Friday morning we officially packed up the last truckload of stuff, locked the doors for what we hope is the last time and drove away.  We haven’t unloaded that truckload, but it is at least in the same county with us.  We started celebrating in the afternoon.  We have not closed on the property yet though.  We are now on our FIFTH closing date.  Yes, you read that right. FIVE times the closing has been set.  Please cross your fingers, say prayers and send good vibes our way for this coming Wednesday…to actually sign the papers and have it DONE.

We started celebrating the final moving trip because it seemed like it would never end. Add to the physical exhaustion, there is always stress involved with a move and there has been even more stress with Dad’s condition, getting Miss L’s paperwork to school, arranging her 13th birthday party (yes, we officially have another teenager), having her braces put on, D. started a new job, having to go two different places to feed animals, etc. etc. etc.  I have had to apologize for a few stress induced meltdowns.  Have you noticed that everyone and everything seems to hit your last nerve when anxiety and stress lingers for a long time?  My last nerve is worn to a nub.

How did we celebrate? Well, D. saddled up his horse, KC, and went for a nice, two hour trail ride. He rarely gets to do that.  I probably should have warned the neighbors that he could possibly show up on your doorstep to say hello…with KC also standing on their doorstep. Expect it.  At least one neighbor had that happen.  She was not expecting it.

Miss L and I went to the community pool and I read and visited with my sister for awhile when she came to chill by the pool also.  We talk virtually everyday now, but it is usually a run down of how Dad and Mom are doing and what do we need to do that day. She is under the great banking cloud of doom from a merger of the bank she works for with another bank. Daily she has to face the stress of the upcoming layoffs and wondering if she will be with or without a job in the very near future.

Fun times we are having in 2019.  Our friend Alan says it all has to do with Mercury and its place in the heavens. Sounds like a good enough excuse for all this crazy.  Oh, and by the way, a HUGE thank you to our friends Alan and Sharon for helping us wrap up the last of the repairs.  They saved us another weekend or a couple of late nights finishing those.

So my little celebration was a small project that I have been wanting to do for about two years now.  Other than a knitting project I started, there have been no creative endeavors for the past month and 26 days.  If you have read any of these posts you know that I am a much saner person if I am making or gardening.  My current tiny garden is below. It is not big enough for a major stress reliever.

My celebratory project was painting this vintage bread box.  Ok, so it’s not a huge thing, but it is. It is my first project for our future selves.  Everything else we have been doing has involved trying to close out a chapter.  It has often been depressing and hard because we have been waiting to move forward but couldn’t. Now we can.

The bread box belonged to D’s Great-Grandmother and then his Grandmother according to his sister. It was a fixture in his Grandmother’s kitchen as long as he could remember.  Other members of the family may know the actual age, but my best guess is the 1920’s – 1940’s. Now before the antique/vintage purists give me grief about painting it, know that we have no intention of selling it.  We plan to use it and enjoy it as long as it holds together.  That said, it’s cute but needed a fresh coat of paint.  It is going to reside in our new, to us, kitchen that will have a vintage vibe.  I’m glad it was originally red because I have always liked cheerful pops of red in my kitchen.  I have another upcoming paint project that will be having a color change. More on that to come.

So I am happy to report we are closing out a chapter and looking forward to the new one.  If you have been reading this blog lately, you are probably pretty darn happy about that too. I know that my whining has been somewhat endless.  My next goal is to FIND MY ART SUPPLIES!

Here is our freshly painted breadbox!

Have a great week and may your future be bright!

Morning rituals

Hi Everyone!

I hope you have had a good week and your July is going well.  We are in the high, hot days of summer here. Once again more rain than we traditionally have. My rain gauge is based on how many times I have to mow the yard during the summer. In the decades that I have lived in North Carolina, most years you could count on having about a month’s break from lawn mowing.  Last year was every single week except on the weeks that the rain didn’t let up.  This year has also been every week, but so far without the never ending rains of last year.  Mainly just afternoon thunderstorms.  The one we had last night took out a huge Popular tree at my parent’s house as well as their phone and all the outlets at the barn.  The tree is still standing, but we are now faced with having it cut down, because it took a life ending hit.

This week has been challenging. Lots of time on the road trying to finish up the last bits and bobs of stuff from the house we left and the repairs before closing. Lots of time on the road running errands and a certain almost 13 year old to her social events.  There is ongoing stress over the house closing.  It seems that our buyers have unwisely decided to use a huge bank that has a reputation for NOT doing the job correctly, for their lender.  Every time we think we are almost finished some other hiccup happens.  Am I alone in wishing there was a brain switch that could turn off the overthinking section?? I had to deal with this bank when my sister-in-law passed and for an entire year the experience was nothing short of excruciating. I am suffering from PTSD as we try to get this closing done.

Today I desperately needed some nature and ritual back in my life.  Normally I have been dragging a cranky pre-teen with me to feed all the animals each morning and I can’t say that it has been a peaceful experience. So this morning I decided that my mental health was more important than the life responsibility lessons for the kid and let her sleep in while I visited with the critters and took in the soul soothing beauty of a summer morning.  Thought I would share it with you.  Enjoy the beauty without the humidity, spider webs and soggy sneakers.  Have a lovely week and hopefully I will be back next week in a more positive frame of mind.

Full on crazy

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I was missing in action last week. I was going to give you a day to day run down of what last week was like but it’s too exhausting to look back on. 

Primarily we got our home and property officially up for sale and in one week have had eight showings. Some days we have had up to three in one day. We know that this has been the initial rush and that it should be slowing down soon, but our normal life has been put on hold. We wanted to get the place listed this Spring because we know it is going to probably be more of a marathon than a sprint. Our place is not everyone’s cup of tea. We are very secluded in a very rural area where the nearest grocery store is almost a half hour drive away. The plus side is that there are very few properties available out here. 

We still have ongoing projects to do, like the new ceiling fan we installed yesterday and the new heat pump that is going in tomorrow. Throw in a lawn mower that has been in the repair shop for a month and a sick dog and a Dad who is sick…

Obviously no artwork has been done. I did finish the sweater I started knitting in December, but it immediately got stuffed in a drawer and probably won’t see daylight until Fall. 


The flowers are blooming and the weather has been wonderful! We have turnip greens and kale coming in faster than I can pick it and the honeybees are having a great honey flow so far. The kids are doing good. One got accepted into NC State Veteraninary School and we are super excited for her! Life is doing what life does with all its challenges and glory. 

I hope to stay the course with my weekly posts, but life happens so bear with me if I don’t. “Thank you” to my friends who celebrate, commiserate and advise us through all this. You know who you are and I love you bunches.

Have an awesome week!!!