Good bye city life! Our family designed and built an industrial but old fashioned farmhouse on nine acres. Now we are building our homestead ~ or is it building us? Grab your boots and join us on our journey to country living.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Make your own silhouettes

I just love old silhouettes. They are so old fashioned and yet, in black and white, they can have a contemporary feel in the right frame.  I have this one of my dad that was done professionally. I'll always treasure it.
But you can make a simplified version yourself.  It is a fun project and really easy!  I learned how to do these last year and did all three of my boys.  If you can trace and are handy with scissors, you can do this.
This is how you make your own silhouettes:

  • Choose a dimly lit area to work.  Hallways work great.

  • Tape a large piece of white paper on the wall. 

  • Have the person sit on a chair or stool right next to the wall.

  • Set up a table with a desk lamp a few feet away.  Make sure the bulb is bright and shining directly at the person's head.  This positioning is the hardest part to get the shadow just right.  Experiment with distances from the person to change the size of the shadow on the paper.

  • Trace around the shadow on the paper with a sharpie pen.  They will be about 12-14 inches tall.

  • Take the tracings to a copy shop and have them reduced to the size that you want.  Mine are 5-7 inches tall.  (Note: I did not change the lamp distance when doing my boy's tracings so they would show size difference according to age.  You can adjust the lamp to make them the same size if doing multiples, if you want.)  Make an extra copy once you get it right just in case you mess up later.

  • Cut the copies out carefully with small scissors. 

  • Use this as a template to trace in pencil onto black scrapbooking paper.

  • Cut out black paper.  Or you can cut both copy & black paper out at one time if you are feeling brave.

  • Glue to another piece of scrapbooking paper. I used cream colored paper with a linen finish.  Rubber cement or spray adhesive works great.  Other glues might leave ripples.

  • Mount in frames.

  • Voila!  Silhouettes created by you!
*If you are doing a silhouette of someone with long hair, it is best for it to be up off the neck in a ponytail.  It translates to paper better that way. :)

Hope you decide to give them a try.  I bet you'll like them in your home too.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday tour

Today we gave a tour to a sweet young couple that just bought some land to build on. They are cousins of a friend of ours.  We had never met them before.  It was fun to visit with a family that wants to create a farm for their three little ones to grow up on.  Joyfully, I watched their 2 year old girl, Maggie, feed strawberries to the chickens (and herself!) and retrieve an egg out of the nest box. It was also fun to share with them some non-traditional ideas that we incorporated into our home. Hopefully, they went away with some space saving and $$ saving ideas.  At least I hope they were encouraged to build what they want and not settle for what is common.
Maggie & I petting Lizzie

Their visit made me think about the changes that have taken place since we moved into our farmhouse. We don't live way out yet we have more space.  We didn't even move that far but life has definitely changed.  Our days start a little earlier with the crowing of our rooster.  Our evenings are spent working in the gardens or in the pastures.  We watch the pond and the sunsets more than we watch the television.  We are always planning our next farm project.  Fresh flowers, veggies, eggs, and even jam are enjoyed on our table.  And last but not least, I haven't seen my boys legs all summer!  They have officially traded in their tennis shoes for cowboy boots and become full fledged farm boys.  I love it!  I wish we had made the move earlier when our kids were younger.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Making jam

Today was a jam making day!  While shopping for groceries this morning, I came across some beautiful strawberries.  I wish they had been from my garden but I'm afraid the baby bunnies ate more than their share last month.  The berries were on sale so I bought a bunch.  I love strawberry jam especially in the winter when I crave the taste of summer.  The little bit that wouldn't fill a jar went in a cup to eat warm with a spoon.  Yummm!  The recipe I used was in the Sure-Jell box.  It never fails.  Tomorrow, I'm going to make triple berry jam with blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.  That will be a new one for me.  I can't wait to try it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Doll & I

Well, it appears that Doll has accepted me as a friend. She has been stand-offish and wouldn't let me pet her face without throwing her head up.  And catching her in the pasture has been challenging at best.  She is as gentle as can be when she has the halter on but getting it on has been hard.  I decided that watching this and struggling myself through this haltering process is what has occasionally unnerved  me prior to riding.  On the days when that happened, I wasn't confident and she felt it.  Our trainer said it was going to take time to build trust.

So,we have been going over for a short visit almost everyday. Tempting treats of sweet feed have helped.  Last night, we called the horses and she came running.  We didn't have the bucket with us to see if they would come anyway.  She walked straight up to me and stuck her nose out for me to pet! After a little scratching and loving, our trainer suggested I try to put a halter on her.  I thought to myself, "she is going to bolt" but she didn't.  Doll just stood there as I threw the lead over her neck. She even lowered her head a little as I slipped the halter on.  You can't imagine how happy this made me!  It was a huge step in the right direction for us and a confidence builder for me personally.  Tonight, Doll & I are going for a ride.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Green egg & ham

I know I promised I wouldn't post a bunch of pictures of eggs but I got a green one today!  It is the prettiest shade of seafoam green.  I have never seen a green egg before, let alone raised a chick up to lay one.  I'm so glad I decided to get a few Americana chickens.  I do hope I get a blue one soon.  And pink would be lovely too. 
Green egg & ham, anyone?
Here it is in my childhood Humpty Dumpty bowl.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Homemade ice cream

Is there anything better in the summer than homemade ice cream?  It is a regular old Tuesday.  No company coming.  No special events.  It's just hot as blazes outside and I wanted homemade ice cream!  This is the best recipe ever from my mother-in-law.  She makes all desserts so good.  This is the only one of hers that I can copy and no one knows the difference.
Neva's Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream:
4 fresh eggs (Yes, that is raw eggs.  Don't worry about it.  You will be fine.)
2 3/4 cup sugar
2 quarts half & half (That is why it's so good!)
4 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
Beat eggs with mixer.  Add sugar gradually to beaten eggs and continue beating until stiff.  Add vanilla & salt.
Pour in 4 quart ice cream freezer.  Stir in half & half.  If you are not up to the fill line, add enough milk to get there.  Freeze.
No need for topping for this one.  Good ol' homemade vanilla is best plain, at least around here.
    And it appears it is best straight out of the bucket!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pasture of holes & loads of lumber

Our horse fence project has begun and boy is it a project!  The man across the street is drilling the holes for the posts and then going to set them.  Two of our boys wanted to set the posts until they saw the hundreds of marking flags.  They will do the railings after the posts are in to earn some money.  In the fall, it will all get a coat of white paint.  I can't tell you how many discussions we have had about what to put in and where to put it.  Most of our available area is out front.  We will have 3 small pastures there in order to rotate the horses or to add a few calves in the spring.  To the side of our house, we are building an arena and a round pen.  After that we are going to build a small (emphasis on small) barn to hold tack, hay, grain and have a tie up area.  The thing that we have had trouble with is deciding what size to make the arena.  We don't want it to be huge and look out of proportion to the acreage but we want it to be big enough for all of us to ride as we add horses.  Not ever having done this before, we have been at a loss and can only depend on what others are telling us.  Some of the holes for the arena are dug and we are still mulling over the size.  We have to go get gates before any of the posts go in.  So we need to decide what kind, what size, what color (that's important) and where they will go.  So many decisions over putting up fences!  I'm afraid we are a little obsessive about doing it all right. Still, I am happy there is progress. It is exciting that we have a pasture of holes and loads of lumber waiting on the drive.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Egg #2

I put a couple of wooden Easter eggs in to inspire them to lay in the nest boxes.  I guess it worked.

I promise I won't take a picture of every one.  But my little guy was too cute holding it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chicken run!

"It's way past dinner and she hasn't let us out.  I'm making a break for it!"
"I made it over.  Come on Ruby!"
"We can fly the coop.  Anytime."
"Finally, we are free.  We are free.  We are free ranging!
  Thanks Mr."
"Wait, what's she gonna do to us? And to think, we gave her an egg this morning!"

Horse woes & a little egg

Last night we went to ride our horses at our trainers.  It wasn't a good night for Doll & I.  It was a mixture of things that added up to no fun.  She got spooked and I got stressed.  We rode through it but it shook me up.  Mostly, I was faced with the fact that I have a lot to learn about horses.  I'm up for it but at the time I questioned whether I was strong enough physically and emotionally to be a good leader.  She is a great horse but I have to learn to be a good horseman.  That is going to required time and lots of it.  I came home, had a cry, a hot shower and headed for bed. 

This morning, I was still feeling unfit to live on a farm as I headed out to clean the chicken coop.  The morning was cooler with cloud cover and the nest boxes needed to be opened.  As I opened the first door, I found a delightful little surprise.  A small brown egg!  My first one!  It's amazing how such a small thing can turn your day around! All I can say is that the work I have put into raising chickens was completely worth it with the arrival of this little gift.  I think the experience with the horses will be the same.  Work, dirty hard work will be followed by little moments of farming bliss. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

First year flower garden

I've always dreamed of a cottage garden.  You know the ones in the magazines of structured beds full of haphazard blooms surrounded by a little white fence.  This year my boys helped make that happen.  They hauled dirt and gravel (dump truck's full of it) and built the flower boxes.  Then I filled them with all types of flowers.  I had a plan drawn out on graph paper but that went out the window when I went shopping. Mostly, I stuck to the tried and true plants that could survive the harsh elements of Oklahoma.  But there are a few "Oh, I love that!" ones mixed in there too.  I really didn't think it would look as good as it does this year, so I have to share some pictures.
Please ignore the half painted fencing. Since painting the house inside and out, it has not been one of my favorite things to do.

I have always wanted black-eyed-susans.  They are my favorite!  Aren't they cheery?

I love God's little creatures that come to visit.  I wonder what that one is.

Here is the feed trough of sunflowers.  I think next year I'll get a taller variety.

Shhh.  Don't tell Sadie that I wasn't taking a picture of her.

The feed bucket flower pots are thriving.  Must be all the rain we've had.  They have holes drilled in the bottoms of them so they don't drown.  Good thing!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The boy's loft

The loft is one of our favorite rooms in the house.  Being open to the stairs and having a ceiling vaulted up to 11 feet, gives it a feeling of openness even though it is small.  My husband calls it the Barnes & Noble room because there is no tv up there - just books, games, and laptop computers.  It is a great place for the boys to hang out, read, do their schoolwork and generally use there indoor voices.  The rec room attached to the garage will be for the loud playing when it is finished later this summer. 
My favorite thing about it is the tall bookcase with storage underneath.

Our two Ethan Allen green farmhouse chairs are 16 years old now and found a comfy spot upstairs.  I couldn't resist the fabric.  Even then, we had farmhouse fever.  The table was salvaged out of Mom & Dad's shed and given a coat of red paint.  Every room needs a splash of red in it, at least in our house.

The table was hubbie's old drafting table. We added a black plank wood top to it and sat barstools around it. It works great & has an artistic flair too, I think.  I'm working on portrait drawings of our boys. They will go over the table when I am finished.  That will be while though.
Over the stairs we have three small windows to let in light on the north side of the house.  Here our youngest stands on the baseboard to get a better look.

After the boys are grown, we hope to use this space as an art studio for our drafting and drawing.  It is a perfect spot for that.  But that will be a while and I'm glad they will enjoy it for as long as they want to.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Surprise in the mudroom sink

Yes, maam, that is a mouse & some sort of headless bird too.  They just greeted me in my mudroom sink as I came in to wash my hands.  Nothing can make you jump like a mouse, even a dead one!  Isn't that right?  If you have a son or husband that wants to become a falconer beware this is what will become of your sink.  Thanks for the surprise, Jake!

Rooster noodle soup

I have a love-hate relationship with my rooster.  Wait a minute, take the love out of that.  Maybe I love to hate him.  Yep, that's it.  He is pretty to watch strut around the yard but at this point in his juvenile life, he has no other redeeming qualities.  He's so mean to the girls and the crowing!  He is making his presence known morning, noon and night.  This morning, he woke me up at 6:00 and made himself horse.  When I went out to the coop to let them out, he glared at me as if to say, "I have been calling you for hours, woman!"  He was clearly perturbed.  I reminded him it was Saturday.  One of us needs to adjust to the farm.  I'm afraid I'm the one that is going to have to adjust though.  Either that, or we are going to have rooster noodle soup and soon!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Rain, rain, go away!

That's all I have to say today.
16 inches in 30 days!

Seriously, this is Oklahoma in summer.  It's not supposed to rain!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tag team mowing

Out here, we mow once a week.  Yes, the entire acreage!  It's a lot of mowing.  Not that I'm speaking from personal experience, mind you. I only drove the mower once and never got it off of turtle speed.  Thank goodness I am slow.  It looks like it would be fun for about 2 minutes.  Today three generations are tag team mowing.  First, my husband at lunch, then Papaw (my husband's dad), and now our oldest son is out there zipping around.  It has rained so much in the past week that the grass has gotten really tall.  More rain is expected in a few hours.  I hope they can get it done or we are going to need a baler instead of a mower!

It's hard to believe that three years ago it was all dirt.  We purchased the land from a large lawn care company.  They used it as a dumping ground for all the grass they cut from lawns.  Along with that they dumped golf balls, pop cans, and weed eater string.  The perimeter was 10 ft tall weeds. After having a tractor brushhog it, we tilled it all under.  Then we picked up trash for weeks.  Literally, we formed police lines and combed the property picking up trash.  Did I say for weeks? After that, we had the 9 acres sprigged with Tifton 44 bermuda grass and prayed for rain.  We needed a good rain within 10 days or it would die. We got it, praise the Lord, and it grew.  What a difference three years can make.  It is a beautiful pasture of grazing grass now.  I will be glad when the fences are done and we have the horses here to eat the grass.  It will be a help to my mowing men, for sure!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Scout, the chicken dog

"Are you the one that let the chickens out?"

"They are all over the patio!"

"Hey, get off the chair!"

"Where do you think you're going?"

"That dog really ticks me off!"

"That's right.  Go back where you belong!"

"I need thumbs so I can lock the gate."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I got spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle

This afternoon, we went to Stockyard City, otherwise know as "cow town" to pick up our saddles and the rest of our horse tack.  It was fun to choose the remaining items to go with the saddles and finalize the deal.  I, of course, got some things with a little horse bling.  We all got spurs too.  Nothing like a pair of spurs to make you feel like a real cowgirl.  The jingle sound tickles me as I stomp around in my boots.  Yee Haw!  I'm ready now.
My boy's boots - colorful, huh?


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