Friday, December 31, 2010

last post of the year

Hard to believe 2010 is done and 2011 looms on the horizon....a wide open, ready to be experienced and precious gift. This last week has been busy for everyone with holidays and vacations and for us we also added in an anniversary celebration (27 years) and experienced the death of two loved ones. Quite a week of highs and lows. I was reflecting on the past year and all that entailed and realized it has been a while since we welcomed a new year from our own home. Last year we were in MO with family and this year we will be in New Jersey with family. My first resolution of 2011 is to celebrate New Years Eve at home. So there, you've heard it and seen it and now you can hold me accountable to it. As much as I love family there is no place like home! I wonder what else the new year holds. I know I can expect more hours at work..starting next week...and I have to believe this is a good thing. I am grateful for it and I like my job. I just know that something will have to be neglected in order to accomplish it. I also have plans to open up an ETSY shop. I am super excited and have been working with my girls on plans for it. My Mary and Bright show was successful way beyond my imagination so I believe it is the right time to gain more exposure. I'll keep up with my photography and with my Christian Paper Artists group so I think I may be quite busy in the crafty department. I have a plan to read through the entire Bible cover to cover over the year. It takes dedication and I admit I have never completely reached this goal but I am motivated and have determined that if I can manage four chapters a day I will get there with time to spare. I do love to see God's plan fall into place and be reminded of his hand over the course of History. It makes total sense to me to keep that as a perspective for a new year. the challenge is to keep that perspective mid year and end year and when busy-ness threatens to overwhelm. Honestly sometimes I would rather sleep! So there's the challenge - care to join me? My other loves include cooking and baking so I am sure there will be some adventures along the way - although it does get hard to be motivated to cook for two. But I want to try to cook something new out of a different cookbook each week. I told myself no new ones until I have done that and I have also wanted to write my own so maybe this is the year. Wow - that is a lot of challenges already for the new year so I guess I better stop typing or I will be in BIG trouble with all I want to do. Enjoy the remainder of 2010 and my advice for you AND me in 2011 is .... Take it One Day at a Time!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Big Dreams.....and Baby Steps

Our little farm project is now 2 years old. In many ways it feels like we haven't accomplished anything, but yet in other ways we have gotten quite a lot done. We certainly don't want to lose the place but the reality is some things have got to change. And speaking of change....this blog is undergoing a few changes in the new year. I will no longer focus only on our farm adventures but will be adding over time our "city" adventures as well. I know that I have already started to add posts that are not related to the farm and it will be a continuation of that along with daily living thoughts and actions; sort of a Town Mouse/Country Mouse approach to life. I hope you will stick with me and that what I say is of interest and I hope that you will become a "follower" if you are not already. But in the end I write mostly for me....a journal of life, a recording of events and thoughts of everyday living that makes me the girl I am, whether it be a farm girl or a city girl. And if it seems that my ramblings are just a carbon copy of what others are doing, oh well, at least we are all having our say. So.......
REFLECTIONS on what the farm has taught us over the last two years
1. It is good to have dreams. When we were married 27 years ago we lived in a little cottage on the top of Lookout Mountain, GA. It had 2 bedrooms and one main living area heated by a wood stove. My new husband was kind enough to get an electric heater for the bathroom, but other than that it was a pretty rustic beginning. We had a beautiful view of a pond and horses and a little mountain farm and we would sit on our front porch and say "Someday, we'll have this..."
2. God speaks through nature. The 20 acres of woods on our property are full of stories. Whether it be civil war soldiers or sharecroppers or raising a family in the old farmhouse, many tales are told by a long walk about the property. We've done it many times in every season and it never fails to remind us of our creator. Listening to the winds whisper in the oaks, or the acorns dropping loudly to the ground, the gurgling stream that at time rushes by swollen and full, all these point us to the One who created this field of wonders for us.
3. Peace and Solitude is a Good thing. Every time we turn into the driveway of our property you can feel the peace of country calling our name. It never fails to amaze me that one can sit on the porch or on a grassy knoll and feel the peace surround. Solitude in the woods is welcome. If you walk quietly and slowly you will notice so many things - perhaps it is the many shapes of an acorn and the way they look like little men of different races, perhaps it is the deer that suddenly leaps in front of your path, or maybe it is the tiny shoots of leaves that have been left alone long enough to form new growth or the sounds of crunching leaves or whispering winds or warning calls from unidentified birds. Peace and Solitude are good things!
4. To work the Earth is just that - Work, hard sweaty labor. We laugh at our audacity to think we could grow anything, much less an entire garden of flowers and vegetables. How the neighboring farmers must chuckle as they drive passed the "city folks" place. You can't garden long distance! but it doesn't stop us from trying and every little success is enough to get us excited for future endeavors. The apple orchard waits - full of promise that it will provide more apples than we know what to do with them. But first we learn how to care for the trees, how to prune and how pick, and just how many ways an apple can be used is worth exploring.
5. There is an enterprise around every corner. It all started with an idea. Lynnette wanted candle holders for her wedding made from the oak trees - just something she had seen in a DIY magazine. So we set about to recreate it and it was a hit. We sold all remaining sets and have people asking for more. It is the start of a small cottage industry that we are slowly starting. We added coasters to the offering and again - all are gone and more are ordered. After researching the web we begin to list the many items that we could easily supply by using ingredients found on the farm. A business plan begins to form....stay tuned
6. Photography is Big business. Everybody wants to be a photographer these days and cameras are designed to point and shoot your way to fame (well maybe fame is pushing it....haha) But when you have something as beautiful as nature in all its seasons to photograph you are a lucky soul indeed. For even in its own quietness the beauty of the season can't be captured or expressed by even the best of the best, but we can view it with our eyes whenever we please.
7. Seasons have unique distinctions. Even as the beauty of nature unfolds from spring to summer to fall to winter so the life of the farm has seasons of history and a legacy for many periods of history. What was once a battlefield, became a 200 acre farm with a sharecroppers cabin still in place, the tobbacy barn belonged to the big house on the hill that is still filled with pieces of history left behind; old books and shoes and jars of something grandma canned many many years ago. The pens that held in cattle and goats now hold in quietness, waiting for the characters of what will come next. The sheds and barns once filled with grain and sustenance and equipment now hold the trash of another generation. And stories abound..who lived here, who worked here, who raised a family here? all stories waiting to be told.
Yes we have learned a lot from the little farm in two short years. And we have many lessons yet to learn, an education at our fingertips waiting for just the right time to take the next step towards the next chapter in the legacy of the little farm.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Here's our Christmas letter...and the reason our little farm didn't get much attention this year. I may rename my blog....Big Dreams and Baby Steps. I trust that someday somewhere somehow all our dreams will come true and in the meantime...God is good...all the time!

2010 Top Ten

10. God is Good…All the Time and we are thankful for His care over us during another busy and challenging year. He continues to provide for ALL of our needs and blesses us “above and beyond.”

9. Wedding Bells…On August 21, Lynnette was married to Andrew Fields in a beautiful outdoor wedding ceremony surrounded by those we love. They live close by; Andrew is finishing up his studies at George Mason University and Lynnette is in her 3rd year of teaching at Lorien Wood School.

8. Graduation…After seven years of interrupted study including two overseas deployments with the US Army Reserves, Mike graduated with Honors and received a Finance Degree from Grove City College in May. He is currently serving in a Fellowship program at McLean Presbyterian Church which includes seminary study, an internship at the SEC in downtown DC and ministry at the church. When not involved in one of those he is spending time with his sweetheart, Laura.

7. New Job…Mary began work in November at our local Chiropractor’s office as a therapist. I love my job and the fact that it is only 5 minutes from home is a HUGE bonus.

6. In Sickness and in health…Kayla had a challenging year health wise with a grand mal seizure in May and countless medical tests over the summer but we are happy to report that in November she was given the “all clear” signal and reissued her driver’s license. God was kind to provide transportation to her summer job and friends who kept her sane and grounded. But she is sure is glad to be back to normal. She continues her studies at Covenant College in GA.

5. Full Nest… For the first time in 8 years and probably for the last time all three kids lived at home this summer. It was this mother’s treasure and one I will keep close to my heart.

4. On the Go…all of us were here, there and everywhere and we are so blessed to have safely navigated yet again busy highways and byways and airspace.

3. Farm…Due to economic issues we did not get any big projects underway but we did have a garden and enjoyed the time we spent relaxing at our getaway. Our adventures are recorded (with pictures) at if you’d like to hear the rest of the story.

2. CSA…stands for community supported agriculture and is a model for local sustainable and organic farming. We had a share in a local farm this summer and in exchange for a basket of fresh produce every week we worked several hours each month (May-Sept) on the farm. We learned a lot and experimented with many new foods – thoroughly enjoying the experience.

1. 50 years – Way back in the beginning of 2010 (March 17 to be exact) we celebrated John’s 50th birthday. We are thankful for an awesome husband, father, brother, son, and friend and spent a fun weekend in DC celebrating him.

It’s been a grand year….God is good…All the time! Blessings to you in 2011!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Farmgirl gets crafty - "Mary & Bright"

Forgive my lack of blogging but haven't been to the farm much lately. Had to go back to work and although having a set schedule helps keep me organized it does take up my free time too. But it is a good job and good people and good hours and a paycheck so no complaints from me. About the time I got the job I also decided to do a Holiday show at my home. Mostly to use up older craft supplies so I could justify purchasing new ones (ha) but also due to inspiration from the Country Living Fair. I can do this and I do that seemed to be a common theme so out came the paper and the glue gun and the fabric scraps and every available moment was spent crafting. The event was this past weekend and although attendance was low the sales were good and I exceeded my goal so I am happy. It was also an opportunity to see friends that I hadn't had the chance to see in a while and the visits were the best part.
Johndear went down to the farm solo yesterday to winterize the pipes in the trailer. Can't lose that trailer yet - still need a real house built and the economy refuses to cooperate. He said there was snow and it was pretty and I was sad that I did not go along and take the camera but I did have a grand day with no. 1 son keeping me company and watching football. He is missing his girlfriend who is off doing Navy stuff so his momma was happy to keep him company or was it the other way around. Anyway, it was a nice day,
Now it is time to get organized and ready for Christmas. My budget is the cash from my show so now that I have something to work with I shall have to get creative. I will be making most of our gifts this year and the sewing machine will get used. But that is all I can say because maybe just maybe my kids read this blog - Ha, fat chance. So enjoy the week ahead and I will keep you posted on my progress.
Pictures above include (L-r) wreaths, banners and "snow cones", scherenschnitte ornaments, oak candle holders (from the farm), paper music wreath, cutesy banners for windows and doorways, and of course photo note cards. The sets included four seasons from the farm which were my personal favorites. Another big seller were the oak coasters - will have to get a picture to post soon.
"Mary Christmas"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

fall at the farm

We headed down to the farm Saturday to get a few fall cleanup chores done and to enjoy the crisp air and colors. The colors are so disappointing this year - so muted and brown. But it was still a nice drive and time together is always well spent. I was surprised to see lots of flowers still growing in the garden. the zinnias especially were cheerfully blooming. I picked everything that was left before John Deare mowed it all down; made a bouquet and pressed some of the remainder for later. We also took a nice long walk in the woods and collected acorns - who knew there were so many shapes and shades? I feel something clever and creative coming on. The dog loved it too. Fortunately no deer taunted him into a chase, but he did discover a raccoon in the old cabin - he just couldn't get him since he stayed up high but he wanted to in a bad way. Now we're all cleaned up til next time. Probably one or two more trips in and then it will be time to drain the pipes before they freeze. Here's hoping and praying the economy picks up before next year so we can get a nice warm place to stay on the property.

Friday, October 29, 2010

and one more

Ode to the end of summer...CSA is over.... I will miss it immensely, the fresh veggies full of color and deliciousness, the experiments with new foods never seen and in some cases not even heard of. It's been a great experience and one I hope to repeat next summer. I don't even want to think about heading to the grocery to purchase fake vegetables shipped from who knows where because that is what it feels like after you have had the real thing fresh from the garden. I ended the season with two more fun meals - one with turnips - which it turns out could be a new favorite for me and the other a veggie enchilada - with tatsoi, pattypan and red peppers. Yummy! Now I begin to compile my cookbook because of course I must keep a record of the fun and the yum! Thankfully we have lots of squash waiting to carry us through the winter and even a sweet potato or two. We have been blessed.

favorite picture from my fall trips

early morning mist over the water

Lake Wallenpaupak, Poconos

The Country Living Fair

My third trip this month was to GA. I was taking my girl back to school and decided it would be fun to spend a long weekend with my family in Atlanta. Then I read about the Country Living Fair coming to Stone Mountain and knew it would be a blast. When I called the girls they were "in" so off we went with thousands of other crazy ladies to the fair. We actually went two days and saw different stuff each day. It was a bit overwhelming but incredibly inspiring to be among so many artisans. I want to do this when I grow up. No wait - I want to do this NOW! Obviously the economy was not suffering at this fair - other than in my pocketbook, but I took about 100 pictures of inspiration to make up for the lack of shopping, or should I say, my usual robust style of shopping - I'll take one of these and one of those was severely limited. I did find one or two little things I couldn't live without (and no, the things above are not those!)

Personal favorite: Bed and Breakfast - Make Your Own

traveling the countryside

I haven't been doing much of anything but traveling this month, in fact 3 of the last 4 weekends have been spent away from home. It has been a joy to experience fall in several different regions. First stop - the Pocono Mountains of PA - see posts below. Next trip was to the mountains of West Virginia. We actually drive over 5 different mountain ranges on this trip. Interestingly enough, the colors were gorgeous on the west side (below) of the mountains but not so much as we traveled east. (picture above)

in the meadow at our friends farm

at the river
The biggest disappointment on this trip was the reality of "you break - you buy." Yes friends - it is true - they really do make you buy it - especially if it is a $200 antique rootbeer canteen that you never even saw before it crashed into pieces at your feet. Ugh! I still feel sick thinking about it. One minute I am admiring a teapot and the next minute I am looking at ceramics by my feet. I won't tell you what I really thought at the time but I will tell you I cried - but it made no difference and yes it is true - I am now banned from antique stores by my husband. It's a shame but there's no use crying over spilt milk as my momma used to say. But it will take a while to get over this one!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A walk in the woods alphabet

D is for decay, H is for hemlock, and X (it was laying in the path just like this which brought a squeal of joy from me. Do you know how hard X is to find?)

One of my current art projects is an alphabet from walking in the woods on the farm. I have photographs and sketches of almost every letter which i will post when it is completed but I found a few more this weekend in the Poconos that I thought to share. I haven't decided if I can use them since they aren't in "my" woods. What do you think?
and look what else I found:
K is for Kathy. What I wouldn't give to find her in my woods more often!

fall in the mountains

I went away for the weekend with girlfriends from high school. We met up at a halfway point in the Pocono Mts of PA where we stayed in the charming log cottage of my friend Linda. So fun to stay in a place that is so close to our own dream of a log home. We hiked in the woods, got a kayak out on the water, and chatted about life over the last 30 years until we were hoarse. So much fun to reconnect and reenergize in the beautiful creation. I can't wait until our own place is really up and running and I can entertain friends and family in our own retreat.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

a new cottage industry

feeling inspired today to get caught up with the creative side of my life and wanted to introduce you to a new project that might be in our future. Lynnette wanted her daddy to make these two items for her wedding (candle holders and arbor). So he went down to the farm, got down some oak trees and proceeded to make her dreams come true, with the help of her brother - what a great dad and an awesome brother! Surprising two other brides saw them at the venue that day and both expressed an interest in having them, so we set a price and proceeded to discuss ways to market them. The venue has expressed an interest in showing them as well. They sell on etsy...We haven't put much time into them....yet, but possibly a new cottage industry has been born.

csa today

What is better than a crisp breeze, the warm sun (well maybe hot is a closer description), new friends and beautiful fresh vegetables? A membership in the CSA of course, so you can experience all of the above AND take the veggies home. Today was a good day with lots of color. I am not sure why I like to take pictures of food but it's become an addictive habit of mine over the summer. The richness of the colors, the contrast of the vivid shapes and capturing the textures and personalities (work with me here) is all part of the fun of being a harvest helper. And of course the best benefit is the eating of the freshest, organic veggies available with just a little effort from all of us. I've been keeping a journal of my weekly treats and the recipes that I have tried with them and am starting to get a nice collection. Part of the fun of being a harvest helper is listening to what others do with the same veggies. It is with some regret that I realize that the end of the summer project is almost here, and to add insult to injury my second favorite place during the summer, the farmer's market, will soon close its doors as well. What will I do with my Wednesday and Thursday mornings? Perhaps I will just look at my pictures and think of all the possibilities for next year, or else I will put my baker's hat on and get ready for the holidays. After all there is a lot of zuchinni in the freezer that needs to be made into cakes and bars. A short list of the new things we've tried this summer:

fennel...not too crazy about it but made a fennel parmesan gratin

swiss chard..I like it but the rest will pass so I hide it in things, there's lots in the freezer, I did make swiss chard gnocchi which was marked w/ passing grades by the family. They haven't noticed it in stuffed zuchinni or in soups

bok choy...also in the freezer

golden beets...i could eat any kind of beet and these are delicious roasted today, thinking about gumbo

pattypan squash...stuffing it tonight with a ricotta and sausage filling

a summer squash soup - next time take out the lemon

zucchini oatmeal bars...went over quite well
squash blossoms, yes I stuffed and fried them and they passed
made 2 pints of pickled peppers - always wanted to try that

and certainly not new - but a new method for processing tomatoes was oven roasted tomato sauce - added Merlot and garlic to the recipe and we have a winner

and refrigerator pickles - new recipe, made lots

eggplant...roasted with a touch of spices, interesting

YUM! hungry yet?

and if I don't feel like cooking, I can always use them in an art project - why yes, yes I did! My photo book Summer's Bounty came last week and I am using another picture for my green ATC project with my art group - Christian Paper Artists. So delicious and inspiring are the benefits of being a farmgirl.

apple sauce, apple pie, apple bread, apple's that time again

This picture says it all. It was past time to pick apples! Butterflies, bees, worms and obviously the deer have been having their fill of delicious appleness and before everything hits the ground it was time to get our share in. We picked 5 big contractor's pails and a large recycling bin full and now have them sorted for usefulness in the garage. Three batches of applesauce, 2 pies and some delicious fritters later we haven't made a dent. We plan to attend the Apple Festival once again at Albemarle Ciderworks in November and have decided that this year we will plant 3 more trees. Maybe a few more if work picks up - smiles. At least this time we will know what kind of apple we are planting - if even we can't pick them for three years. We have come to think that currently we have Pippins, Arkansas Black and perhaps a Rome or McIntosh of some sort. We also need to get up to speed on organic pesticides and see if we can't make "prettier" apples. But in the meantime, Bon Apetit!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Simplicity: a picture is worth a thousand words

One of my favorites from the wedding so far. What one word describes this picture?

Monday, August 9, 2010

oh bummer!

OH BUMMER! Along came a storm and knocked out the pear tree. Changes the look of things and it was such beautiful shade. Many a picnic lunch was eaten under the shade of that tree in the short time we had it. Oh Bummer!

Check out my blog two blogs back to see what these beautiful flowers looked like a few weeks ago. Good thing I had the sense to set up with a vendor for the wedding because these sunflowers aren't gonna cut it! too hot, not enough rain and not nearly enough attention from me! maybe next summer?