Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Decisions, decisions

I feel a bit behind as so many other bloggers are sharing their list of seeds that they've recently ordered and/or started (eee gads!). Now, folks are starting to talk about ordering chicks for the spring. Last spring, our friends at High Hopes Gardens sold us some laying hens to get us acclimated to the whole egg-laying thing. This year, I think we're ready to start some chicks.

I'm currently leaning toward a nice assortment of "Rainbow Layers" from Murray McMurray. I also heard the guy from Sand Hill Preservation Center speak, and I would love to order some stuff from him. I guess he sells the best sweet potatoes.
Gotta support Seed Savers Exchange, too. My Garden Girl Neighbor and I have a crazy plan to buy "only what we need" and share extra seeds & plants with each other. Ha! Like that will work for us, Garden Girl! But a road trip to SSE (pictured above) will be just what the doctor ordered around May. If anyone else is up for a Farmgirl Getaway to SSE, drop me a line!

Welcome International Visitor(s)

I had my first comment (on this post) from an international visitor. I'm so excited and flattered. It's a small world after all.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dog days of ... winter?

DD and I had an interesting science lesson in the car on the way to school this morning. We saw this amazing sunrise and the "sun dogs" that appeared shortly after. I actually sounded kinda smart as I was telling the hows & whys of sun dogs. She was so excited to tell her teacher.

Here's a little dog that I whipped up last weekend. I got the idea from here. My first experience sewing felt . . . um, don't try to put this on the sewing machine. It's a bugger to turn the ears out. Take the time to hand-sew it, trust me. His name is Casper and he's a happy, but mighty quiet little pup. He likes long walks along the end rows and dinners of scraps by the yard light. Casper doesn't have a very good sense of smell since he doesn't have a nose; hopefully, this farmgirl will fix that siutation shortly. Casper has also been whining about needing a little bell or dangly thing from his collar. Hmm...any ideas?
And, finally, I leave you with the other project I worked on this past weekend: the belated holiday card from our family. It's on light blue Bazzill cardstock, Microsoft word "art" for the greetings box, and a snowflake stamp in glittery silver in the center. I also used Rhonna Farrer "flourishes" stamp with silvery-blue ink on the back and on the envelopes.In keeping with the "dog" theme of this post, we were "dog tired" by the time this picture was taken (hee hee). I won't show post the picture of the backside of the card (it's stuff you already know if you come here often).
Have a doggone great day! [LOL - - stop, my sides are hurting!]

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Reality vs fantasy

DH is finally seeing a specialist (ENT) today about his ear. His ear canal is nearly swollen shut, the right side of his face is swollen, and he is in a lot of pain. I hope the ENT can give him some much needed relief. DD went back to school today. She didn't cough much last night and the school nurse volunteered to take a look at her today (thanks, Glo!).

Since DH has been going to bed extremely early, I have the tv to myself. Rather than watch fluff or the State of the Union, I watched this and this. Talk about a downer.

Neighbor D came over last night with the tractor and bucket and cleared the driveway (thanks, D!). It was a novel idea being "snowed in," but the reality is that I do actually need to go to work and I can't really be a hermit.

If I were a hermit, I think I would want to live in this adorable little cottage (in Wales).
[Edited to add photo, since link is disabled]
I always secretly wished I could live like a Smurf. Enjoy the tour!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sick little girl

DD still has a terrible cough, so she's home from school today. After she ate a little breakfast, I asked her to go upstairs and lie down. After putting dishes away, this is what I found:

Well, she made it halfway up the stairs. What you can't see is Tucker (the dog) laying on the stair near her head. Cat on one side and dog on the other side protecting her - - pets are awesome.

DH put some dough in the breadmaker before he left for work. So, a little soup & homemade bread for lunch, lots of rest & liquids, and a million kisses from her mama should make DD feel a little better.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday Funnies

We got quite a bit of snow last night (4-6"). Usually, we get the wind with the snow, and the wind is what keeps our driveway clear. Last night, however, no wind. So, for the first time this winter, we were snowed in. We don't have a big tractor with a bucket (or any tractor for that matter). So, we waited for the snow to stop and we dragged out the trusty snow blower. DH did most of the work. I came out in the ninth inning and finished up. It was wonderful to be outside today - - crisp, cool, and no wind.
While we waited for the snow to stop, we spent a leisurely morning reading, playing, and sipping cocoa and coffee. I made some scrambled eggs with ham & cheese. DH picked up some bagels & cream cheese, so it was a lovely mid-morning meal.
Then, the remote control Jeep made it's way around the house, picking up passengers along the way.I've got a sick kid and a sick husband. DD missed school on Friday - - terrible cough and congestion. On Thursday, DH went to the doctor with an ear ache and received some antibiotics. So far, nothing has worked for him (his ear canal is almost swollen shut and his jaw is throbbing), so he just went to town to get a shot for the pain and a different antibiotic. This guy can take a lot of pain, so he must be absolutely miserable!

On Thursday, I found out that my high school volleyball/basketball coach and teacher passed away. He was only 52 years old - - apparently no sign of illness. Just gone. My heart aches for his family, students, and colleagues. He was a good man. May he rest in peace; and may his family find peace in their sorrow and joy in the inspirational life he lived.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Gracious Acres Mystery

When I pulled in the driveway tonight I saw a pheasant standing in the snow about 10 feet from the house. I noticed that it didn't seem very alert and did not take flight when it saw me. Yep, it was dead. Then, I figured that DH stuck a piece of taxidermy in the snow and was inside laughing his bum off as DD and I cautiously approached this marvelously beautiful creature.

It was no joke - - DH found the pheasant just a few feet from the garage door with just a spot of blood on the side of his beak. Perhaps he flew into the garage door, maybe a car hit him and he got as far as our driveway. He wasn't frozen or stiff yet, so his demise was very recent (considering the below zero temps here). He was a perfect specimen, such brilliant color that I couldn't possibly capture.
DD was enthralled with the bird and wanted to hold him and look at him. How many kids (especially young girls) have a chance to experience this up close?
I called my friend who does taxidermy work. He plans to use the feathers for a fly-tying customer. We kept one tail feather for DD to keep - - she was very sad that we couldn't keep him.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Still snowing

My DH is out there blowing snow and I sit here in front of the warm stove, eating good oatmeal (while my DD eats the instant kind), sipping hot coffee, and typing on the computer. I guess I'm a bit spoiled. But the division of duty line is clearly drawn for this husband and wife when it comes to blowing snow. Not that I won't do it, 'cause I have (willingly). But since this is the real "first snow" and all, I think it's only fair to let DH have the pleasure. . .
It's still snowing and classes have been delayed 2 hours.
My mom gave us tickets to see Jesus Christ Superstar at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) in Cedar Falls. We drove up there yesterday afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it. We had front row center seats. Literally behind the conductor. So cool. Since DH used to design orchestra pits, it was especially cool. In fact the pit at the PAC was made by the company he used to work for. It was sometimes a little difficult to see beyond the 70's funk music and not see this show as blasphemous, but the performances were outstanding and the ending scene was breathtaking. DH and I have a certain view of the last days of Christ (in our minds, it was more accurately portrayed in The Passion of the Christ), but we agreed after the show that if more people come to Christ through this show, it's all good. Ted Neeley played Jesus Christ - - yes, the same Ted Neeley that played Christ in the 1973 movie version. Thanks, Mom!!!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Just be!

It's finally the weekend. Time to relax, catch up, just BE.

I brought home an old laptop from work to be our "game computer." I didn't even realize that you could play dvd's in it. Twenty bucks for this little life saver:
DH brought me flowers yesterday - - gorgeous blooms to brighten my day.
The "clean up crew" stopped by for some left-over chips, crackers, and popcorn:
Leah takes a cat nap on the stairs. She's a bit of the non-committal sort. Neither upstairs or downstairs. She's supposed to be an "outdoor cat," but we always let her in. I'm terribly allergic to cats, but she's just so sweet, I can't help it.
Snow . . . yes, snow!
Suspenders . . . yes, suspenders!

Dollhouse progress

Interior painted: check
Interior wallpaper: check
Carpet: check
Trim: check
Draperies: a few
Fireplace: check
Furnishings: check
Porch swing: check
Residents: check
Once again, we used what we had on hand: craft paint, ribbon for draperies, and scrapbook paper for wall paper. DH brought home a package of cup hooks and popsicle sticks for the porch swing and future projects.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

May I Suggest Susan Werner

I just saw an interview with Manchester, Iowa native Susan Werner on IPTV's "Living in Iowa." She is amazingly talented. Check out this "review" and click on the song "Epilogue: May I Suggest." Be prepared to drop your jaw . . .

Here's another review of her work.

Iowa rock chicks rule!

Flip that house

DH and I are known for our home renovations. We lived in and remodeled four houses in six years. It's been a couple years since the last major renovation in our current home. Frankly, I'm going through a little withdrawal. I need my fix of power tools, paint samples, and projects.

A couple years ago, DH's mom found an old dollhouse at a garage sale and gave it to DD. She thought it would make a great family project. DH and DD painted the whole thing tan and put some color on the shutters. He also cut cedar shims for the shake shingles on the roof (so very cool). We had some mismatched "vintage" furnishings and felt for carpet. After seeing this and this, I knew I had found my "winter renovation project."

Last night, I found some yellow paint that we used in the guest room and used some of my craft paint for the trim, shutters, and door. I need to go in and clean up a few spots on the trim, but you get the general idea. I so wish I would have taken the "before" pictures of the exterior.
I feel good about this little project because I don't need major power tools, expensive furniture or hours of labor to accomplish something meaningful. The hour or two it took me to repaint the doll house was rewarded with a huge hug and kiss from my DD (well worth it). I look forward to spending many hours with her creating ingenious little "scenes" and interiors for this little house. We're already talking about adding a "yard" for the gardens and chicken house. Hee hee - - a girl after my own heart!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Subtle Changes

I opened the bottom drawer of my desk at work today and really looked at the two cans of Campbell's soup that have been sitting there for a year (yes, a year). I realized that not only did I no longer care to eat it, but I refuse to eat it.

I've become a bit of a "soup snob." Not that I make the best soup ever - - although my ham & bean with German dumplings ("kloo-ches") kicks butt - - but I know what I put in the soup. I don't know what Campbell's puts in theirs (although I have a hunch that the chickens come from some over-crowded and disgusting egg factory).

I really love milk. Growing up, we got our milk straight out of the "bulk tank." It was the best ever. However, I've recently slowed down on my milk consumption. I had a glass of milk with dinner tonight for the first time in about a month. I abhor how dairy cows, and the milk they produce, are treated. I dearly wish I could find some local raw milk. Not the "organic" milk from Hy-Vee, but "dunk the Tupperware container in the neighbor's bulk tank" milk. While I would love to have a cow like K&T, we're just not set up for it.

I won't buy chicken, beef, or pork from the grocery store unless I absolutely have to. My chicken and turkey comes from the neighbor down the road or Sugar Creek Farm. My beef comes from Sugar Creek Farm. And my pork comes from another neighbor down the road. Notice how I take ownership and pride when I say "my" chicken/beef/pork. It's because I'm connected to the families who grew my food.

I'm not pious by any means - - just more aware. I don't always make the best food choices and probably never will. But, little by little, I'm leaving less of a footprint on this earth. I'm trying to be a good steward of God's amazing planet, animals, and people.

Now, if I could just get my family to actually enjoy eating this:

Sunday, January 07, 2007


We took a little vacation this weekend to Minnesota. DD received a gift certificate from Santa to Build-A-Bear Workshop, so we travelled to Mall of America to create "Alicia" the World Wildlife Federation snow leopard. Alicia roars and wears quite a hoochie-mama outfit (DD's taste in clothing scares me a bit).
We ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (one of DD's best impressions and favorite movies is "Forrest Gump"). It was great for DH and me, but a bit too spicy for DD.
We stayed at Country Inn & Suites in Woodbury - - it had a nice pool & hot tub . . . and cable tv. We don't have cable on the farm and whenever we are somewhere with cable, we turn into lazy zombies. I especially like TLC and HGTV ("Flip This House" is so cool).

On Saturday, DD had ski lessons from 10 am - 3 pm. She was so nervous - - but did great. While she was in lessons, DH and I hit the slopes. I was a bit over-confident on my first run. After falling 4-5 times down the first hill, I picked up my skiis and walked down. After pouting and nursing my wounds for a bit, I got back out there. By 2 pm, DD was spent (so was Mom!). By 2:15, DD was asleep in the car on the way back to the hotel. We ordered dinner in the room and vegged (in front of cable tv, of course) and were all asleep by 8:45 pm.

This morning, DH was in a terrible hurry "to get going" so we packed, had a light breakfast, and drove to Rochester to meet Tommy Boy and his bride. Had a great brunch and chatted for a couple hours.

Found a lake and fed the geese.
On to visit the clan at Sugar Creek Farm, where I received an impromptu tractor driving lesson from Matt. DD "helped" with chores, and we took home a bundle of beef. It's always great fun to visit with Matt & Kelli.
We picked up Tucker (Grammy D was kind enough to dog sit) and headed home. Again, DD was asleep in the back - - DH carried her up to bed at 7:15.

A wonderful, busy, friend- and fun-filled weekend. We are truly blessed. . .

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

No regrets

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I’d finger paint more and point the finger less.
I’d do less correcting and more connecting.
I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I would care to know less and know to care more.
I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.
I’d stop playing serious and seriously play.
I’d run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I’d do more hugging and less tugging.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more often.
I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I’d teach less about the love of power,
and more about the power of love.

by Diana Loomans

Happy New Year!

"The Song of My Heart"

I've seen many posts on New Year's Resolutions the last few days. It seems that my resolutions are always the same: stop biting my nails, eat healthy, exercise more, etc. But this year, I plan to become a bit more philosophical about my life's resolve - - not just setting goals to achieve.

I resolve to find contentment in the everyday happenings here at Gracious Acres (the discussion about contentment here is inspiring). I resolve to make my life my own, not what someone else may think is appropriate or best. I resolve to treat each day and person and moment as a gift from God; I know it sounds cliche, but I really do take those things too much for granted. I resolve to let go of a little bitterness, resentment, and regret everyday until it is a miniscule memory (and not such heavy burdens). These are no trifle goals, but life-changing and God-inspired endeavors. Your prayers to this end are most appreciated.

New Year's Eve was spent with friends, food, home-made margaritas, games, and lots of laughter. The snow started falling at 7:30 and left just enough of a dusting for the kids to squeal with delight. Truly memorable.
When DD is eating popcorn, her best buddy (Tucker) hangs out with her and catches any dropped kernels.
Occasionally, she tries to gross us out by letting the dog eat a kernel from her mouth (just don't call DHS, it's all very harmless).