A new season

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a lovely week. As usual mine seemed to fly past me in the blink of an eye. There were three soccer matches this week and one half day of organizing and cleaning one of our three storage units. I am trying very hard to get down to two as fast as possible. More doctor appointments. For a bunch of healthy people we seem to have a ridiculous amount of check ups. Lots of computer work and the usual yard, animal and house keeping. I’m pretty over mowing yards for the year!

We officially slid into Fall this week. I can’t say it feels like it yet. The air has been slightly cooler, but that is about the only real change. I have noticed an odd phenomenon though. Normally by now the leaves are beginning to change color, but this year they seem to just be dropping off. They just turn brown and fall. I don’t know if it’s because of all the rain we have had or what. I’m not wild about Fall anyway, but at least the color change is pretty while it lasts. It’s going to be very depressing if we don’t have some color. We are surrounded by mountains and I am not seeing color on the higher elevations yet either. It all feels very odd. I spend so much time outside now that my body seems to be more tuned into rhythm of the seasons and something is off right now. 

I had hoped to bring you some links to new items in my Etsy shop, but I’m doing some major updates to it and as usual, everything is taking longer than expected. It’s time for anyone selling anything to get ready for 4th quarter holiday shopping so I’m doing my part. Maybe next week. We only have two soccer matches this coming week. 

Now that the garden is done (and unfortunately the hurricane drowned most of our baby Fall plants) D. and I have been able to decide and narrow down future plans and projects. We have simplified many of them and decided against some others altogether, like restoring the tobacco barn that sits in our front yard. We have had mixed feeling about it, but the time and money involved doesn’t seem to be worth the effort when it will only get used for storage and heaven knows we are trying our best to get rid of stuff to store. We have more pressing projects that will improve life around here but it will be sad to watch the deterioration of a piece of history. 

Along with the physical change in season I am also feeling a mental and emotional change as well. Life with Miss L. has settled into a nice groove as we watch her become more confident and mature. Last year was tremendously difficult for all of us, but especially her and the adjustments in all our lives took some big highs and lows. Now life feels more solid and smooth. 

As 2018 winds down I am also having to make the mental switch from being a parent to adding “grandparent” as a title. The reality has not completely sunk in yet. I am excited yet at the same time wondering once again how time got by me so fast.  Maybe because I am still parenting a middle schooler it seems like a strange time warp thing. 

We have other plans and projects in the works that will eventually make it here, but in the immediate future we have our annual chicken stew to plan and get ready for (this includes major yard and garden cleaning and house projects to finish), then the following week we will be traveling to Charleston for the grandbaby gender reveal party. Today I have chicken coop cleaning duty.  I know, I know. You are all jealous and wish you were me. ūüėČ

Have a great week and enjoy the Fall!

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Almost there

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have had a good week. It has been pleasantly uneventful here. Oh, other than an escaped chicken (one of our young ones) that got eaten by a hawk. It’s a full time job keeping chickens alive around here! We thought we had all the holes covered that the little ones could escape from, but two found a way out. Luckily we arrived back home in time to rescue one of them, but the hawk had already gotten the other one. It’s depressing when these things happen. 

I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week. I have a pile of veggies to freeze and tomorrow is a major tomato canning day. Tonight is open house at the school and Thursday is “finish school shopping” day as well as some medical appointments. Friday is a major grocery shopping day. In other words, time is short this week.

If you read last week’s post you know I have been setting up routines and doing a now, three week long over the top, home and yard cleanup. All this has been in prep for next week when school starts back. I’m trying to lay the groundwork for a real schedule this year. A much needed scheduled. A “the housework isn’t done” guilt free schedule! 

I think my hard work has paid off.  There isn’t much left on the house other than some big remodeling projects and repairs that will happen in small increments. The yard will be getting a major overhaul this coming month for our annual family chicken stew, so I will have help with that. My goal is to finally have 20-25 hours a week to get back to my artwork and a little side job that brings in some cash flow.  I am also preparing those people that I live with to NOT find projects in my coveted time slot. In all the hours available in a week, I don’t think 25 hours is too much to ask especially considering I am a much more pleasant person to live with if you DON’T mess with my time. I will keep you updated on how this goes. 

Have a great week and stay on schedule!

Pickle Power

Hi Everyone, 

I’m going to write this as fast as I can so I can say that I finally finished a blog post this week.  It’s raining here so I have a little reprieve from cucumber picking. 

We have had a super abundance of cucumbers that I have been pickling as fast as I can. Sweet pickles, dill pickles, refrigerator pickles, bread and butter pickles. We have eaten cucumber sandwiches at least once a day for a month. I have given away cucumbers by the bag full. I am beginning to consider leaving them in my mail box for our mail lady and making anonymous cucumber drops at every church and doorstep in the surrounding area. Currently there are three bushels in my laundry room! 


Thank goodness D. ends his extra work hours this week because now the tomatoes are coming in (all 84 plants!). Pickling ends this week and tomato canning starts next week! I’m already running out of storage for all this so at some point I have to stop the canning to shuffle stuff around for more room. I’m seriously wondering if the canned food would be safe in our storage unit over the winter.

In other news, we have been spending a ridiculous amount of time securing animals. We had to get creative and tie feed bags along the perimeter of the new chickens’ run because they were so small they could get out through the fencing. We have redneck ingenuity down to a fine art around here. It’s not pretty, but it’s cheap and effective. Hopefully it won’t be there too long. 


Big Bad Bob kept escaping from the pasture and taking our donkey and the trainee horse with him. We couldn’t find where they were getting out so we spent the past weekend, including our Sunday, walking the fence line, moving fence post and running more wire. Well, D. did most of it.  We also made the hard decision (though not nearly as hard as before all the escapes) to sell Bob. He was seriously upping his mischief level lately and we were worried about the safety of the other horses and well as mine and Miss L.’s. He’s a big ‘ole horse and sometimes was not patient about waiting for us to open his stall door.  I was envisioning myself as a greasy spot after Bob plowed over me on his way to catch up with his buddies. We miss his handsome goofy self, but he is with a co-worker of D.’s who also trains horses and is in good hands. 


No real artwork happening at all. The kitchen table (aka my studio) is currently covered with dehydrators. Oh yeah, we are making cucumber chips too and my herbs are coming in as well, so I’m drying them.  I have a sweater on the knitting needles but it’s a pretty boring pattern. I did start some embroidery/textile art because I HAD to do somethings creative. I get cranky when I don’t have somethings artsy to do. This is small and easily tucked away but also easy for me to pick up and put down in my spare few minutes. 


The only other thing I want to mention this week is for those of you who read this crazy blog to keep up with Miss L.  She has been with us for over a year now and is doing very well. She is in pre-teen mode and if you have survived that stage yourself or that of your kids, you know that it’s, uh, challenging at times.  I have decided that it is time to limit what I put out on social media about her life now.  She will soon be of age to decide how much she wants to share on her own and it’s not my place to tell about her life.  If we do something as a family she will be mentioned, but otherwise I will be keeping her life private. If you are a member of the community that helped look after her, you are welcome to message me for an update. I just feel it’s best to protect her privacy. 

Next week my daughter and son-in-law will be in for a visit. I seriously doubt I will be able to work in a post. Bear with me. I should be back on schedule once school starts!

Go eat a pickle and have a great week!

High summer insanity

Hi Everyone, 

Yes, I am two weeks behind here. Yes, I have tried several times to get a post written but my time has been limited. Very limited! Week before last I took the week off while Miss L. was away on a mission trip with our church so I could get a good start painting my kitchen and some other very involved stuff. Things do not happen here in grand and glorious sweeps. Our accomplishments come in tiny bits and pieces squeezed out of odd moments of time. Last week, well, the high summer season kicked in and Mother Nature rules.

I am going to give you bullet points and photos because I just don’t have the time at the moment for long thoughtful writing. Hopefully I can squeeze some in between now and September, but don’t be surprised if there are more posts like this over the next month. My apologies. Life happens.

  • Spark Plug got to go free from his 5 week confinement on Saturday. He’s happy for his freedom. I’m happy not to be hauling hay and water twice a day to the round pen.  ‚Äč
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  • The 25 cucumber plants are producing PROFUSELY!
  • The pickle making is currently at least a part time job for me at the moment. 
  • Miss L. is taking a pottery class this week. It was supposed to be at a facility 15 minutes from our house. It got moved to a location 30 minutes from our house. Two hours a day of driving. 
  • I am dealing with some life aggravations that include disputing a medical bill. I suspect that alone will take several hours this week with phone calls and letters, plus a couple other time intensive problems to solve. 
  • We added 3 chickens to the flock yesterday.  We thought they would be teenage pullets. Instead, they are pre-teen pullets and much smaller than our new chicken run set up. They are so small they can get through the run wire. On one side are the grown hens who are not above pecking one of their own kind to death. On the other side is the pasture and the domain of the infamous chicken killing raccoon. And on the third and forth side awaits Sweetie Pie the Cat, who realized the new girls are the perfect snacking size. We have now rigged a containment center within the run, but it’s in the testing stage (and as they grow has the potential for escape) so I have to regularly go out to do a security check. Keeping chickens alive around here is a full time job!  
  • The tomato plants are heavy with little green tomatoes and growing faster than I can tied them up. Brace yourself for for a plethora of tomato pics and complaints in the very near future.
  • The yard needs mowing, the herbs need picking and drying and do I really need to mention laundry, cleaning and cooking?
  • I started some artwork two weeks ago and it just sits and taunts me right now. 

This is life in Crazyville at the moment. I’m just doing it like Nike tells us to do. Hopefully you will hear from me next week, but if you don’t, be assured I am buried under a pile of cucumbers and tomatoes. 

Go somewhere and have a relaxing vacation for me please. Have a great week! 

Fixin’ it

Hi Everyone,

I hope life is grand in your world. Now that it’s Spring and the flowers are blooming and the bees are buzzing it’s pretty grand here. 

We have half of our garden planted and half of the garden fence that we have had plans to put up for three years finally underway. The rascally rabbits will have to find food elsewhere soon. I helped D. plant 56 tomato seeds a few weeks ago, then, unbeknownst to me, he planted another 50! We have 84 in the ground with the others on standby in case we lose some of the 84. Every year he is convinced that we are going to lose half of the tomato plants and we NEVER do. Brace yourself for lots of complaining from me in July and August when every waking moment is spent canning tomatoes. Oh, and the whole row of cucumbers that will have to be pickled if they all come up!

Since I can once again only show you a small detail of the two portraits I’m working on I thought I would talk about something I have decided to do and my guess is that I am probably not the only one who needs to do this. Can I get a show of hands from all of you who have items in your life that you love and/or use constantly but either need repairs or tweaking to make them better? I see you. It’s a life thang. 

Now that I have tweaked my work life a little more to have some more time and space, I have decided that at least once a month I am going to fix something that needs fixin’. I have jewelry that I love that needs repairing, my binder of “most used recipes” that needs to function better, a planner that I REALLY need to use but needs some tweaking of the pages to fit my life better, clothes that need mending, etc. 

I have been making do for years and it’s just pitiful. I’m surprised the recipe binder is even still holding together. You would think that I would fix something that I use several times a week! I decided to start with this necklace though instead of the binder first. Why? Because for about a year I have reached to wear it and realized I need to replace the wire that holds it to the leather, then I mentally fuss at myself.  I got this necklace on a trip to Charleston SC with my daughter when she had a job interview and didn’t want to make the long drive alone. On that trip I got to catch up with a friend from college and, along with her daughter we went to a craft fair where I got the necklace. Not only do I really like cool rocks, this one goes with almost everything in my wardrobe and I have good memories attached to it. To me (and I know my taste is a bit quirky) this is one of those William Morse things that is both beautiful and useful. 


Ideally I would like to fix about one item a week but some of them are going to take some time. Just for kicks and grins I will share the before and afters. I suspect this could easily be a year long project. I have been making do for a long time with many things and in the season of self-care that I have declared for 2018 this could cut down on my frustration level. 

Here is a detail (and boy, are these portraits detailed) from one of the portraits (it’s sideways, sorry) and the other is a sketch I did this morning. More self-care. I gave myself 45 glorious minutes out in my garden to just draw and enjoy the sights and sounds before I started my work day. 


 

Have a lovely week and give yourself the time to fix that one darn thing that is driving you nuts. 

Stuff

Hi Everyone!

I hope you have had an excellent week.  We are still thinking of all those folks in Texas cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey and now are watching Hurricane Irma starting to roll in.  Both of my kids are at the coast and we are putting together supplies here in case we need to have another evacuation hurricane party like we did last year during Matthew.  Mother Nature does not cooperate with life plans and I feel for all the people who are trying to decide what moves to make to protect lives and property.

Once again I can’t say that this week has included much artwork or creativity for that matter.¬† I did ship a print to Australia yesterday.¬† That was fun.¬† Guess I’m officially an international artist now (I hope you heard the chuckle I made typing that).

What I have been doing is sorting through yet more and more boxes from my SIL’s estate.¬† Much of it also comes from my husband’s Mother and his grandparents and even great-grandparents.¬† Where probably 75% has been general current clothes and household items the other 25% has been some vintage and antiques items that have been interesting to find.¬† I thought I would include some photos of what is currently laying around my house as we decide what to do with all of this STUFF.

I would hate for you to miss out on my other pile of STUFF…the peas that are begging to be shelled and canned.¬† This may be the first year EVER that I have looked forward to winter!

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Wishing you a great week.  Stay safe those of you on the East coast.  We will have you in our prayers.

Beans, barns, bees and boredom

Hi Everyone!

How has your July been? Do you feel summer winding down? It has been hot and miserable here for the past couple of weeks. Midday is spent inside. 

This week we decided to enjoy a good dose of boredom around here. Last week was an awful mess of traveling to appointments that resulted in nothing more than frustration, disappointment and stress. Now it’s a waiting game for the attorney and government entities to accomplish something so we can move forward. Boredom has been a good tonic.

Our garden is producing high levels of green beans this year and the tomatoes are putting forth a good effort. Miss L got to try her hand at picking beans. I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it about as much as I did at her age. She also got to see the canning process while Danny canned the first 14 quarts of beans. She was keeping track of the pops the jar lids made as they sealed. We are also consuming green beans frequently at meals.  Last night’s dinner was green beans, potatoes, creamed corn, fresh tomatoes and biscuits. It just doesn’t get any better than that!!

I have been checking on my bees more and feeding them now that most of the blooms are gone. My goal is to get at least two hives through the winter this year. It’s sad to admit that, but with colony losses of 40-50% on average each year now in most places in the United States, you have to brace yourself and hope for the best. I have one hive I’m already concerned over and keeping a close eye on. 

Our keets are having issues. We have lost three of the 16 and have 2 more that aren’t doing well. After some research we think there is a possible vitamin deficiency so Miss L and I made an emergency grocery run for wheat germ and vitamin E this morning. Hopefully that will help. 

It seems like a combination of heat and boredom are making our hens cranky. They can’t free range anymore due to the Thing In The Thicket that has snatched a couple of their coop mates. They seem to be protesting with a decrease in egg prodution. 

I am almost done with the barn drawing commission. I hope to have the finished picture on here next week.  Sooooo close but I can’t show it to you before I show it to my clients.  The boredom and heat have allowed me the time to put in several concentrated hours on it. 

We have enjoyed walks, time with the dogs, cat and some crafty time this week.  Danny has been able to work with Bob several evenings. Books have been read, movies watched, etc.  It has been GOOD!  Next week could get crazy again and August will bring school shopping, soccer and school faster than I’m ready for. I’m going to enjoy one more weekend of “boredom”. 

Hope you find some boredom this week! 

Back in the saddle

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I am back.  Last week was insane trying to get everything done before leaving for my son’s graduation so I did not make it here before we left.  BUT, here he is in all of his graduation glory and I am one proud Mom!

 

I did barely manage to get the room painting finished before we had to bring back his bed and dresser.  Before with my piles of mess and After before my mess takes over again.  I need to have an art supply yard sale or a better solution would be to win the lottery and build myself a nice big studio. 



 

Now that the big event for the year is over I am SO ready to settle down and get back to work with a routine.  We planted the majority of the garden yesterday so other than the daily weeding I should have a couple of months before I have to stop for the major harvest rituals…picking, canning and freezing.  The bees are settled in though I am adding a swarm from my brother-in-law this weekend.  No more home remodeling until Fall!

 I am setting up my easel in a corner and plan to start back painting today!  For the past year I have held off taking any commission work other than a couple from my daughter.  During the graduation party there were a few inquiries about whether I would be taking any again.  After discussing it with D. on the way home we decided that, yes, it’s time.  I will be adding pet portraits to my Etsy shop hopefully this week and then as soon as I gather some sample work, add people portraits as well.   I will add the links here on the blog when I get them set up.

 I can’t tell you what a relief it is to feel like life is settling down a little and I can get back to the artwork.  My 100 Day Project fell apart, but my goal now is to get back in the saddle and finish out the rest of the summer with some steady work.  Maybe next week I will at least have a sneak peek of what is on the easel.

The flowers are blooming here on the farm and they WILL be making it onto a canvas soon.  Until then, just enjoy the May beauty!  Have a lovely week!

Curiosity

Dorothy parker quote

I saw this quote on my cousin’s Facebook feed this morning and thought about how true this is.¬† Curiosity is a blessing and a curse all wrapped up together with the fact that as far as we know, we only get one lifetime.¬† Personally, I do not have enough time to go down every rabbit hole my curiosity wants to take, but by golly I’m going to try!

A friend asked me recently how I do everything I do.¬† The answer is “I do lots of things, but not necessarily lots of things well”. That is also a blessing and a curse.

I would love to excel in a couple of areas, but to really do that I would have to give up soooo many other things that I want to do, try, learn, places to visit and explore.  BUT I will admit, quite happily, that I NEVER GET BORED!  Boredom is a waste of your precious life.  Whether it is one passion or a thousand, curiosity is what makes you dig deeper, study more, practice more, give more, smile more and get out of bed with leap instead of a moan.

Another conversation recently was about a wealthy family a loved one spent some time with.¬† He said, “they have so much money and all they can find to do is sit around and drink every evening, all evening.”¬† That, my friends, is a waste of a life.¬† Good heavens, spend some of that money and go travel or see if you can make someone else’s life better with it.¬† Don’t drink it!

How do you break out of the boredom routine? Let me see if I can give some suggestions if you need help.

  1.  Pick one little subject that you have a speck of interest in and start doing some research.  Not boring classroom research, but real life research. Example:  I started out growing herbs to cook with.  During my Pinterest time I would pin articles about growing herbs and read about them.  Those articles often described the healing properties of herbs and plants.  To make a long story short, I now have started making my own herbal remedies to use and discovering that most of what we call weeds are beneficial plants. This summer I have wandered around learning plant names and properties that I have looked at all my life and knew nothing about.
  2. Take something that you perceive as a need and find a solution.¬† Example (sorry, I’m using me¬†for all these, but I can’t speak for how other folks find their rabbit holes) – I needed honey.¬†I had always gotten my raw honey from my Dad, but when my sister and brother-in-law started expanding his honey business the honey was often sold out before I could restock my supply.¬†¬†I realized that now that I live out in the country again I could have bees and have my own honey supply.¬† Sounds easy enough until you have to research how to keep 60,000 bees alive.¬† Guess what! Bees are fascinating little creatures. I am now officially a bee fanatic.
  3. ¬†Take a new road. Example – see my post about finding my way around my new part of the world.¬† I am seriously racking up new ideas for drawings and painting by just turning down a road that I haven’t been down before.¬† The views here are amazing.¬† In more populated areas (we don’t have a grocery store here if that explains anything) you could run across a music store where you could learn to play an instrument, a plant nursery where you could get herb plants, a school that would love to have volunteers to help students read.¬† It is endless.
  4. ¬†This may be the most important one. Do not be afraid to fail at something!¬† I repeat – DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL!¬† With the possible exception of certain extreme risk taking passions, most endeavors are not life threating and not un-repairable. Yes, one more Example from the home front – Floor tiling.¬† We decided to tile our floors ourselves.¬† Since I am the detail person that primarily means ME.¬† No, I had never stuck the first tile to a floor EVER when I started. That is what YouTube is for.¬† I am 85% finished with the floor and am pretty darn pleased with the way it has turned out. A professional tile guy could find my mistakes, but I bet you couldn’t.¬† Even if I had messed the floor up, we had saved enough money by doing it ourselves that we could have hired the tile guy to come fix my mess.¬†DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL!

My cousin, who posted the above quote, and my sister are both smitten with the curiosity curse as well.¬† Enter ballroom dancing, photography, welding, raising llamas…maybe it’s a genetic curse.

Curse or blessing, Curiosity just makes life FUN.  If you want a break from the depressing news and elections go find a rabbit hole to fall into.  Your TV will get dusty, Facebook friends will send out a search party and your budget may or may not (curiosity does not have to be expensive) take a beating, but life will get very interesting and colorful and exciting.

Why are you still here?  Go!

 

Get lost. Slow down. Change directions.

sunflower 2016
My sunflowers are enjoying the heat. They are at least 8′ tall and still growing!

I hope you all have had a lovely week. It has been a typical July week here. Hot as Hades all day with a late afternoon thunderstorm that hopefully cools the air a little. Often it doesn’t. Sometimes the air is so humid and thick after a storm that it feels difficult to breathe. You would think you could squeeze the juice out of it. My poor bees are spending more time on the outside of the hive than inside. I’m thinking I should get a tiny air conditioner for them. No, I do not spoil the creatures that live with me (much).

The past couple of weeks have been spent getting settled, finding my way around and meeting people. If I counted correctly, this is my tenth move in my lifetime. Most of my moves have been within miles of each other, but this is the third move to a completely new area. My first major move was as a newlywed to a different state. My then husband was working third shift, the company had put us up in a hotel until we could find a home and I knew no one. I couldn’t stay in the hotel room during the day while my husband was trying to sleep, but I had no where to go.

This was before cell phones and we had two not-so-great cars. So, I did what any bored, fearless (you have that in your 20’s) young woman would do. I got my car keys, filled the car up with gas and proceeded to drive in and out of town until I was hopelessly lost, then figure out how to get myself back to the hotel. ¬†Honestly, it was a huge adrenaline rush. Sometimes I barely made it back before my husband got up to go to work. ¬†By the time we moved out of the hotel three weeks later, I rarely got lost. I found all the important places (Town Hall, library, the MALL) and lots of scenic areas of the countryside.

I have been using this same technique with slightly more common sense this time.  Lately our vehicles have been just as bad (except for THE BEAST, our F-350 pickup that I LOVE to drive), but I do have my cell phone and AAA card with me now. I found the library. People seem to think that libraries are not important anymore. I beg to differ. The bulletin board alone was a wealth of information. Local events and services that I had not been able to find online were on the bulletin board.  So, I have the library, found the arts council, town hall, pharmacy, car mechanic and our local state park for hiking. Hey, not a bad start for two weeks of being lost!

ghost flowers 2016
I discovered Ghost plants on our way to pick blackberries this week. They are such an oddity with all the color this time of year.

The harder adjustment I am having to make is the pace of life here. I’m pretty sure it was the same way when I was growing up out in the country but I wasn’t aware of it. EVERYTHING is slower. I have been in Surburbia for twenty years. I have worked two jobs for about twelve years. I shuttled two kids to thousands of practices and events for eighteen years. All that has come to a screeching halt. I often find myself standing somewhere in disbelief that there is nothing on my To Do list that HAS to be done immediately. Trust me, I’m not complaining, but after decades of rushing around and working under endless deadlines, it is disorienting.

Now that I have said that life has slowed down, just this week events have fallen into place for D. to start a business he has been planning for about two years. Originally he was going to start it next year after he retires, but an opportunity presented itself that was too good to pass up. This means that for about four months I will be back to working two jobs again as we start this while he is still working full time.  I will fill I the details as this moves along.

blueberry jam 2016
More slow stuff. Making blueberry jam.

I need to mosey on now to finish tiling these floors (they WILL be done by the end of the month!). ¬†I’m going to leave you with some hard earned wisdom. If life is a little boring or drab, or the creative juices have quit flowing (they do sometimes), literally get in your car, on your bike, take the bus, use your feet and go get lost. The change in scenery and the adventure will do you good. Don’t use the GPS. Use your God given instincts!

zinna butterfly 2016
Just one of the hundreds of butterflies that have been visiting my zinnias this year. I have never seen soooo many in one place before!

All photos by Christel D. Huttar.