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.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My portrait drawing class

According to my boys, Thursday is Girl Invasion Day.  This fall I started teaching a homeschooled girl's portrait drawing class here at our house.  I have taught it for a couple of years at a homeschool cooperative but since we weren't returning this year to co-op, I was asked if I would consider teaching in my home.  So for a few hours, nine girls gather around my dining table and kitchen island, chat, drink lemonade, eat cookies, and get eraser crumbs all over the place.  It is wonderful and one of the highlights of my week!


We had a shading lesson today.  If you can draw a ball, you can draw a face.

There are a couple of things I really enjoy about my class:
  • One of the moms is teaching my boys writing composition while I teach her girls drawing.  It is such a good trade. I hate teaching writing! 
  • I get to have a house full of sweet, giggly, teenage girls for a few hours which is a nice change from having 3 boys in the house 24/7.  I'm not dogging my boys, mind you, they are the best!  (They secretly love having the girls here too.)
  • It has pushed me back into doing something that I truly enjoy.
  • I get to pass on my love for realistic drawing which is wonderful too!
This book, Draw Real People by Lee Hammond, is the one that I teach out of.  It breaks down the face into pieces and uses a grid system for accuracy.  Lee's books are great!  If you have any drawing ability, give it a try!

I studied art in college but took a long break from drawing while the kids were little.  I enjoy all kinds of arts and crafts and have tried just about everything but I truly love drawing and sewing.  The last couple of years I haven't been able to draw as much as I like since we were building the house.  So this portrait has been incomplete for a long time.  This week I finished it.  Two years and it is finally done!

Cowboy Jared

It is of my youngest all dressed up in his hat and vest.  It is one of my all time favorite photos.  I see flaws in my own work but overall I am happy with the way it turned out.  Most of all, I'm glad it's finished!  Now, I have 2 more boys to do.  Then I am going to draw my horse.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hall into the master bath

We have a little hall on our way into the master bathroom.  It is a nice transition space from bed to bath and a perfect spot to hang our robes.  We mounted a piece of trim on the wall and added two hooks.  Very simple. We have always wanted a space like this and of course had to buy the robes to go with the house.   I must tell you, the best thing about this space is those heavenly hotel robes.  I couldn't wait for it to get chilly again so I could wear mine.
This antique English men's wardrobe is on the other side.  My husband bought it before we married.  He has good taste, I know.  We designed this space to fit the wardrobe and use it for storage instead of cabinets. It is functional and beautiful. 
On top of it sits a basket for more storage and an antique chamber pot.  Funny thing about this pot...  I went shopping last year for some farmhouse accents before the newspaper did a story on our house.  Not the best use of my time considering the fact that I needed to be cleaning but you would have done the same, wouldn't you?  Anyway, I found this charming white bowl for the kitchen.  I had a spot on top of the china cabinet that needed something special.  The man that helped me suggested I use it as a planter.  "No way," I thought. "This is going in the kitchen."  He wrapped it carefully in paper and I found a safe spot to transport it in the car.  Upon arriving home, my boys came out to greet me and help unload my treasures.  Then my oldest son said, "Mom, you bought an antique toilet!"  "What? No, that is a bowl," I said.  To which he replied, "Well, I'm not eating out of it." After some research and much to my disappointment, he was right.  It will not make it to the Thanksgiving table!  It is pretty in the bathroom though. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Black & white barns

I love old barns.  To me they signify simpler times when people lived on faith, family, and the fields.  There is one nearby that I love to drive by.  Deteriorating, it sits on a hill with a windmill by it's side.  I will cry if they ever tear it down.

We framed some of our favorite barn photos for the living room.  I had them printed in black and white and floated them in black frames.  The wall shows through the glass which gives them a nice contemporary feel.  Old meets new - that is what our farmhouse is all about.

My horse is still in bed

and I am not
thanks to this little bundle of energy.
Thank goodness my husband brought me coffee in bed.
Did you know that horses stand guard for each other while they sleep?  When one of the girls lays down to sleep the other one stands over her.  D is watching over Bobbie right now.  I think that is so interesting. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

My lap chicken

 My Lizzie is the sweetest chicken.  When she was just a chick in the brooder she would run to my hand while the other chicks cowarded in the corner.  Because of this, she quickly became my favorite.  Being an Ameraucana hen, she lays beautiful mint green eggs for us.  This alone would be reason enough to have a special place in my heart.  But there is another reason that endears her to me.  She has a need to be held. 
 Every night as I go out to lock up the coop, she runs out to meet me.  Squatting down with her wings partially spread she prepares to be picked up. 
Then she enjoys some lap time with a good deal of petting.  Being truly affectionate, she coos and makes little chirping sounds the whole time. 
After she has had enough she jumps down, runs back to the coop and hops inside for the night. 
Needless to say, my lap chicken is assured a long life here at our farm even if she decides to stop laying.

By the way, Lizzie's formal name is Miss Elizabeth Bennett. All Jane Austen fans should have a sweet but proud chicken named after her.  Shouldn't they?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Last of the black-eyed peas

The cold winds came in last night and it truly feels like fall.  It is hard to believe it was near 90 yesterday.  The hot weather veggies are fading fast.  My in-laws who live next door in the blue house have tirelessly taken care of the vegetable garden this year. It is nice that we can all work together and share the benefits of our labor.
After church today, I picked the last of the black-eyed peas. I will shell them, freeze them and enjoy them another day.
Now, I know what you are thinking.  You don't like black-eyed peas.  But have you ever had them fresh, cooked with bacon?  And if the answer to that is no, well then, you haven't had black-eyed peas at all.  This is how I cook mine:
Shell and rinse peas.  Cover with water in large pot.  Add salt.  Bring to a boil.  Boil.  Boil.  Boil some more.  Like 3 hours worth of boiling.  You are going to need to add some more water in that pot along the way.  About 30 minutes before you think you just can't boil them anymore, add some crumbled cooked bacon (or ham).  Throw in some seasoning like onion powder if you want, maybe some more salt and pepper.  Eat with a large spoon.  Really, you are going to like them!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Goodbye summer garden

I planted mums today in my feed bucket pots all around the house.  Soon they will be filled with yellow, white, pink, and red fall blooms.  After that, I headed into the garden to give it a good fall cleaning.  The invasive sweet potato vine had to be taken out so I could see where I had space for new flowers next year.   This fall, I will add some bulbs for early color next year.  Hopefully the perinnials will fill in after a long winter's nap.  Overall, I'm happy with my first year flower garden.  It has been a good place to work by myself on something for myself.  It fills me with wonder and joy.  But today, I felt I was saying goodbye to some of my favorite bloomers this year.  For I know they will not be around much longer with the days getting shorter and the temperatures dropping. 

So... farwell Purple Verbena.  I do hope you come back next year.

Rest well, Yellow Coreopsis, you have bloomed all summer.  You deserve a break.

Pink Knockouts, you are so thorny but you sure do have velvety petals.  Bloom until frost.

Verbena on a Stick, multiply till your hearts content.  I will be happy to see you standing tall next summer.

And finally, Red Million Bells, I know you are not long for this life.  I look forward to bringing your sisters home to bloom.
Goodbye summer garden.

Hmmmm...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day at the Wildlife Expo

Today we spent the morning at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.  Our oldest son, Jake, is an apprentice falconer and took his American Kestrel (falcon) to work at the Oklahoma Falconry booth.  It was an exciting day for him since he first learned about falconry at the Expo two years ago.  He then studied, passed his State test, got licensed with Feds and trapped and trained his bird.  It was good to see him come full circle and share his passion with others.
There was no shortage of fun stuff to do and see.
Jonah was quite good at kayaking.  He was lapping everyone.
At the archery range, Jared got right to the point and made some really good shots. 
I got in a good shot myself, hitting a bear target in the chest.  That was fun after totally missing the first two times.  More than anything, I enjoy watching my boys in action.  They are great guys!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pretty wet rag

A month ago, a fellow blogger had a contest for some crocheted dishcloths.  Her dog drooled on my name and I won!  I've enjoyed them so much I have officially retired my old rags in place of her pretty ones.  But two won't last forever so I thought I better get that crochet hook moving.  I learned  to crochet years ago and made lots of baby items for friends.  I even made a few blankets for my own boys.  It never occured to me to make something this simple.  Taking only a few hours, I stitched double crochets in rows making a square and then went around with a single crochet.  This yarn is a little chunky but it looks cute and washes great.  I'm going to have to make more, alot more.  Of this I am convinced... if you are going to have to use a wet rag it should always be pretty.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Boy's bath

When planning our boy's bathroom, we kept four things in mind:
  •   3 boys would be sharing this space so it needed plenty of room to move around.
  • More than one faucet was needed.
  •   The tile needed to be easy to clean.
  •  I did not want to wipe the water off the countertop 10 times a day.
I have to tell you, I love this sink!  It is a Kohler double utility sink, commonly used in restaurants.   Made of indestructible cast iron, it is perfect for a boy's bath.  The faucets come with it and spray like shower heads.  Also included is the soap holder.  And look, no counter tops for messy kids to get water on.  A big basket catches dirty clothes before they hit the floor.  At least that is the idea.

We don't have cabinets in either of the bathrooms.  Instead we opted for using pieces of furniture to store toiletries.  Old farmhouses commonly had this and we loved the idea.  It saved us money and enabled us to use pieces that we already had.  This pine bookcase with baskets keeps their stuff orderly.  I want to paint it, maybe an old fashioned mint green.  What do you think?
Classic black and white pinwheels line the floor. The white subway tile in the shower is super easy to clean and dark gray grout will help keep it all looking new longer.
The window was carefully placed above eye level for privacy while letting in natural light.

And last but not least, hooks to hang towels.  I feel these are better than towel bars.  Regardless of whether the towel is clean or has been used a few times, it always looks the same - neat.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lotta love in that jar

My husband loves pickled beets.  I don't like anything about them except the color.  Of course, you know that I love that color, it's the color of my house!  Still, I planted beets and harvested them a few days ago.  Yesterday, I decided to can some jars for him.  I had a sack full of beets but after trimming there wasn't much left.  Three hours later, I had 1 & 1/2 jars of pickled beets.  I told my husband that is a whole lotta love in 1 jar! He said I couldn't count the time while cooking them since we went to get a coke.  I assured him that even deducting that, it was a whole lotta love!

Here is my recipe:
cook beets until tender
peel and slice beets and put in jar
make syrup in saucepan and pour over beets:
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 T cinnamon
1 t. all spice
1 t. cloves

seal and process jars
*note - it takes forever to cook beets!*

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blue bottom chicken

**Note to self**  Free ranging the chickens is not a good idea when hubby has just sprayed the grass in the horse round pen with blue colored grass killer!



Secretly, she has always wanted to be an Ameraucana.  I do hope her eggs don't turn blue or square for that matter!

Shaker of flowers

Years ago, I picked up some vintage salt & pepper shakers at a flea market.  They were without their mates and some without lids.  This one ended up being my favorite.  They make cute little bud vases for single roses or a tiny bouquet.  And they cost pennies.
purple verbena & sage in a vintage turquoise salt shaker


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Squirreling away jam for winter

Canning is easy.  Really it is!  If you have never done it you should give it a try.  There is nothing better than opening a jar of summer freshness well into the winter.  I have canned many things - okra, green beans, salsa.  For these use recipes in an old taped together cookbook called Kerr Home Canning Book.  It was given to me by my mother-in-law. 
It has old illustrations like this one that I enjoy looking at too.  I hope those hairdos don't come back in style!
I like to make jam the best.  Mainly because I like to eat it and because I hate the store bought kind.  Recently, I had a comment asking to do a post on how to make jam.  So, here you go... how I make jam.


This is what I make sure I have before I start:
1 box of half pint jars with screw lids and bands (washed)
1 box of Sure-jell pectin
fresh fruit
a bag of sugar
You also need a large pasta pot.

For my jams, I use the recipes in the Sure-jell box. The recipes have never failed me. It is important that you measure precisely.  Basically, you cut and barely mash the fruit.  Add the fruit pectin and bring to a full rolling boil (still boiling when you stir it) on high heat.  Add the sugar and bring back to a full rolling boil.  Boil for 1 minute exactly then remove from heat.

(While you are doing this, you need the jar lids warming in hot, hot water.)  Ladle jam into clean jars.  Wipe any spills off the jar rim.  Screw on lids and bands tightly.  You will need a tea towel to hold the jars.  They get hot fast!  Pour any extra into a bowl to eat with a spoon.  This is my favorite part!

Hot jam will seal itself but just to be safe, I do a hot water bath.  To do that all you need to do is place the jam jars in a deep pot, maybe the one you just used.  Cover them with water 1 inch deeper than the jar lids.  Bring to a boil.  Boil 10 minutes.  Remove jars and cool.  Jam needs to set at room temperature for 24 hours to set.  If you can wait that long to dig in, you have more will power than me.
Next, enjoy the fact that you have squirreled away fruit for the winter in your pantry.  And if you make enough, you just might be able to give them away as Christmas gifts maybe in racks like these.  That is what I am going to do.  Friends and family, please act surprised when I give them to you!




Fuel for chores

Saturday is farm chore day.  Not that there aren't things to do every other day of the week.  But on Saturdays here we tackle bigger jobs.  Today we are hanging the batten boards on the fence to finish it out.  Fence building has been a huge project consuming time and money.  Our boys have done most of it and should be very proud of their work.  Also slated for today is a trip to Tractor Supply for chicken feed, pine shavings, a manure picker-uper (I don't know what those are called) and another water trough.  The boy's calves arrive next week and they need something to drink out of.  The grass needs to be killed off in the arena and round pen so it can be tilled too.  I need to mop the floors inside and deadhead the flower garden.  I think all this work requires something special to get us going...
Donut muffins
Dipped in butter and then rolled in sugar & cinnamon, they are yummy muffins!
Recipe found here.  Thanks to Kaytee for passing it on to me.
The perfect fuel for Saturday chores.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blue glories

Just when you think you have every color in the garden...
you find lovely morning glories sunning their baby blues.
And these purple blooms are verbena on a stick, transplants from my dear friend, Alice.  They grow on tall stems so they are hard to get a good picture of but they are delightful in person.
I can't wait to see what color the lilies are that she brought me yesterday.  The fall rains have given new life to the flower garden and turned our pastures green again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pooch hunger strike & Peaches

untouched dog bowls

 It seems that we have a pooch hunger strike.  Not the puppy of course but our other dogs.  I think old man Scout is too tired from being guardian and teacher to even think of eating.  Sadie is starving because she is fed up, with Sammie that is.  Poor Sadie has lost her status as the only other female besides the lady of the house.  The lack of food won't hurt them.  They have some stored up.  Sammie doesn't mind as long as she can still pull hair out of their tails and everyone thinks it's cute.  And she is just too cute to not think it is cute!
Meanwhile, I'm up to my elbows in peaches.  So, it was another jam day as if I had nothing else to do!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Puppy in the house

Yesterday morning, if you had told me that we would have a puppy by nightfall, I would have laughed.  However, a friend called and told us about this sweet golden girl.  She was the last of the litter and free to a loving home. Since we are golden retriever family, we decided, why not.
She is a paperless, full blood golden.
She is 7 weeks old and 10 lbs.
We named her Sammie.
She's cute as a button!
Scout and Sadie meet Sammie.
What a messy little thing, she is!
We are all in puppy love even if she did wake us up at midnight, 2, 4, 5:45, & 6:30!

Grand total of animals on the farm - 26
3 dogs, 3 horses, 18 chickens, 1 falcon, & 1 turtle
Cows & pigs are coming soon

Wreck to Recreation

The wreck rec room is finished!
There is plenty of room for the boys and their friends to hang out and watch a movie or play PS3 or Wii.
We had some large bare walls so we got creative with those.  On this one we hung family portraits from the last 20+ years in random frames.  I wasn't sure about the random thing at first but this way we can always add to it and we didn't have to buy all new frames.  It was nice to get some of these out of storage so we can enjoy them again.  I picked out a new rug but decided if a new rug would be purchased it was going in the house not the rec room so I moved this one out here.  It's not perfect but looks good enough.  And let's face it, they are just going to get it dirty.
The drums and guitar came out of storage.  We thought they would be fun and who knows, someone might want to play them again.  Lessons, anyone?
The electric dart board is pretty fun and doesn't have sharp metal points.  That made the mom in me happy.
I think the pool table turned out pretty good.  It still needs trim to cover some of the chipped edges but overall it looks pretty good to be 90 years old. 
Some exercise equipment (that I really need to use) is on the other wall.
My favorite thing is the brand on the wall.
The boys favorite thing is the 58" plasma.
PS3, Wii, pool, darts, pumping iron and a giant tv - Yea, it's a man cave!

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