Monthly Archives: July 2012


The family & I just returned home from our vacation to the Wild West of Wyoming & South Dakota.  We traveled almost 3000 miles from the time we left to the time we pulled in the driveway.  This was an interesting vacation for me.  I learned a lot about myself on this trip.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Because I am a planner & I love themes I had chosen music, movies & books to correlate with the Wild West.  We listened to Little House on the Prairie audio style as we too traveled over the plains.  We watched Yogi Bear on the way to Yellowstone.  We listened to Mountain Music & Cowboy Ballads.  The boys were in heaven.  They are so into ‘surviving’ & hunting & the outdoors right now.  It was the perfect place for them to live out these dreams & embrace the possibility of really being a cowboy or survivor man.

In my personal time I too played on the theme by reading The Wild about a girl who survives in the wilderness by hiking the mountains.  I listened to music of my youth and as the miles rolled by so did the memories.  I spent a lot of time contemplating who I am, how I got to that point, and where I want to be.  I am at a very strange place in my life for me.  My baby will be starting Kindergarten in a few weeks and this stay at home mom of almost 10 years isn’t quite sure what to do with my life.  I keep plenty busy now with the farm and my little businesses but is that enough?  Sometimes I feel the need to get a real 9-5 job to feel better about myself when talking to friends & family.  I’ve always enjoyed working when I did have a job….I love interacting with the people.  But more & more I find myself drawn into myself & my home.  Is this a good thing or a bad thing I ask myself.

Our view from our campsite of the Snake River

I struggled with a lot of fears in those mountains.  I am afraid of heights.  Not just nervous about them but driving those curvy narrow roads I had full on waves of fear that would leave me pale and shaking with sweat down to my toes.  I thought about all of the reasons I have these fears and how I might be instilling them in my children without even meaning to.

We slept in a tent in the most gorgeous spot on the Snake River. We made it comfortable with raised air mattresses and the coolest outdoor kitchen.  Yet I would shiver in the cool mountain temperatures.  I had to shower after walking a way to get there and use port a pottys in the middle of the night.  Obviously these are not the typical vacation type amenities this girl envisions and so I found myself cranky & complaining.  Then I would read in my book where the author wasn’t able to shower for sometimes weeks and would wake up with snow crusted on her tent.  I would find myself not really liking what I saw in myself.

Hundreds of Wild Buffalo

The landscape up there is simply gorgeous and the sightings of animals in the wild was truly amazing.  Everything was so wide open, so untouched.  I felt so small among the majestic mountains.  I found I craved those wide open spaces away from the hustle and bustle of town.  Perhaps another reflection of myself & why I love it here on the farm.

Bull Moose. Mama with twin calves were just down the road.

Most of all I contemplated who I was as a mother.  I am so thankful for my 3 sons.  So blessed.  And yet having boys is a challenge for me.  I didn’t even grow up around any outside of neighbors and cousins.  I am the oldest of 3 girls.  How do I know what to give them and what they need?  They relished the time with their dad on the trip.  Often times I would argue that they shouldn’t be doing this or that and then I’d think to myself am I turning them into sissies?  Perhaps I should loosen the reigns.  As any parent I want to give them the best, to guide them to be the best.  But oftentimes me & my own fears get in the way.  (Pocket knifes & guns are a huge passion for my boys.  The day after we got home the youngest used a pocket knife and sliced his hand open resulting in 5 stitches.)

I found myself remembering that Proverbs 31 was written by a mother to her son about the kind of wife to choose …. not of a woman whom we can never be but that of what you want for your son….the best.  I listened over & over to Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd about all that his mom tried to instill in him.  And that is what I want …. for my sons to find joy & happiness in the simple things.  The wide open.  In themselves.

The 4 faces in stone aren’t near as precious as the 3 young men below are. I know their futures will be just as extraordinary.

My vacation turned out to be as monumental as these faces carved in Mount Rushmore.  I am a work in progress that will take my lifetime to carve out the finished product.  Some days I am blasting with dynamite and other days chiseling with small precise movements.  But it is all with a purpose and a vision of becoming something better and an example for my children.  Perhaps that is my greatest occupation.  No matter where I find myself spending my days while they are in school …to be the best mother, teacher, example I can be for them.  While this vacation might not have been full of the typical souvenirs of a bronze tan or trinkets & treasures I feel something significant has started from it.  And I hope someday I can be as the mountain reflected in the lake below….something strong & beautiful & complete.

Comments are welcome!



I have been searching for a few new books to read and thought you might be too.  I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite books I’ve read.  I hope you’ll leave me a comment with a new read for me to check out.

I love any book by Adriana TrigianiThe Big Stone Gap series & any of her other books are all wonderful!  Engaging, romantic.  Love it!

One of my all time favorite books is The Red Tent.  This book written by Anita Diamant is a fictional book based on biblical women.  Yet it is full of history, love & relationships.  A must read!

My niece & I were discussing our love for the book The Secret Life Of Bees.  This story about a young girl is entertaining as well as inspiring.  I loved almost any book I read by the author Sue Monk Kidd.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is truly one of my favorites.  I refer to it over & over and & am always encouraged to live better.  The recipes in it are fabulous.

Speaking of recipes….who doesn’t love The Pioneer Woman?  Her book Black Heels to Tractor Wheels about her meeting her cowboy is a fun & quick read.

Most recently of course I’ve read The Hunger Games Trilogy which I surprisingly enjoyed.  Normally such violence & science fiction isn’t my thing.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett was another fabulous book that I read in a matter of hours.

Yes I adored the series Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.  And yes it made me feel like a better person for my Target runs that were miniscule compared to her shopping sprees.

Of course I loved all of Frances Mayes European adventures in her books Under The Tuscan Sun & Bella Tuscany.  I felt as though I were right there with her eating from local markets amongst the olive trees.  Sigh.

Right now my Kindle is full of these books that I plan to read next:

Secrets of Paris by Luanne Rice

The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

The Wild by Cheryl Strayed

What’s on your summer reading list?





Comments are welcome!

Keeping Cool


This year hubby put up a pool for us.  Best.  Gift.  Ever.  It was a lot of work to put it up but oh it has been worth it. With record high temperatures in our area and hardly any rain fall we have all been trying to keep cool.  (No the pig in the pool picture is not ours.  I did tell my hubby though if you get a pool I get a pig.  So he owes me one!!)  Add animals into the mix and it’s often times a struggle to keep them cool.  What exactly do animals need to keep cool & hydrated on hot summer days?

Water.  Lots of cold water.  We have automatic waterers for the animals that keep the water fresh & cold.  When water is poured into a bucket it can get hot very quickly.  We have a kiddie pool full of water for the chickens & turkey to stand in as well.

Fans.  There are really cool fans out there that you can install that have misters attached to them.  I’ve been asking hubby to install one by the goats.  Even at milking time in the shade it can get stifling back there with no air flow. For dairy animals when they are strained from the heat their milk production goes down as well.

Shade.  We all know that standing in the shade can feel several degrees cooler.  Animals need shade as well.  We let our chickens out during the day so they can lounge under the trees.  The turkeys are a bit more flighty so until those climbing vines reach the top of the run we have a tarp over the outdoor run to provide shade.  We put their water under it as well to keep it cooler longer.

Breed.  Did you know that most heritage breeds are more resilient to extreme temperatures?  Animals that have been ‘created’ to produce more meat or more eggs might be weak in other areas.  Breeds that have stood the test of time are more likely to survive longer.  Research breeds of animals that are known to survive well in your area or for your land conditions.  If you have smaller pastures or wooded areas there are even cattle that are known to thrive in these environments.  Check the American Livestock Breed Conservation List to see what animals suit your area best.  We prefer these animals and we love knowing that we are preserving their breeds.

What other ways do you keep your animals cool?



Comments are welcome!

Setting the Mood

My dear friend Angela, The Parisienne Farmgirl, posted a fun read about coffee.  In the post she mentions how she loves to drink it from an all white mug.  I too am a very particular person.  Yes, I will eat lunch in the car if I’m to that point (hubby will tell you sometimes if you just feed me first then talk to me it’s a much better outcome) but I do prefer my favorite mug and coffee made my way.  Or a drink in a clear glass with ice rather than a can.  Even if I have to clear off the table I’d rather eat there with a proper plate & silverware than in front of the tv (my boys think that’s the coolest thing ever!).

When I plant the garden I want to arrange the seeds in a fun pattern.  I like to give gifts that are wrapped beautifully.  I don’t spend a lot of money or even a lot of time to make something extra special.  But I do it because I feel life is short and full of moments.  Everyone deserves to feel special.  I read a story once where a child remembered company was coming because Mom would take the time to make everything extra special with fancy dishes and music and candles.  But why do we do those things to impress others but not for our own family?  Sure I don’t do it all of the time either because life gets busy.  But if lighting a candle or turning on the music becomes a habit it really doesn’t take that much time.  Send the kids out to pick flowers for dinner or set the table with extra special elements.



I am including an old post here of why I want to go the extra mile for me, my family & our home. Enjoy!

I have not posted in a while because I have been extremely busy.  Very, Very busy.  Did I mention extremely busy?  Not the busy that most people are used to I’m sure but for me very busy.  All with wonderful good things like volunteering at school and watching my boys play hockey and helping someone in need and going on dates with my husband to Lowes.  All very good things but I am just not used to getting my kids in bed after 8:30 and falling asleep while I read them stories.  We each have seasons in our lives of busyness.  I used to have to nurse the baby while I read to the preschooler and chased the toddler.  All at once.  My mom would say “Enjoy it.  It will go by fast.”  And looking back it did.  Now that I’m down to one kiddo at home I thought things would slow down but we are just as busy, just with different things.  But I love it and I love experiencing life with them.  As long as I get a few afternoons in the garden once in a while.

I’ve always tried to make time to do things for me that I love admist the busyness.  Most of the time I love where I am but I dream about and am inspired by a certain lifestyle that I don’t necessarily get to live out.  Like the poet who writes from her bedroom window overlooking Paris.  Or the artist who overlooks the River Seine as she paints the tourists.  Sensing a pattern here?  I take elements of what I imagine these carefree women with their lavish lifestyles enjoy, that appeal to me.  For instance, I love local coffee shops but I would rather make my own cappuccino or spiced chai tea latte.  I love to buy fancy drink ingredients and make them to suit my taste and my budget.  My sister got me hooked on making my own chocolate croissants, after having one for brunch on the Plaza, by simply placing one piece (or more!) of your favorite really good chocolate inside a Pillsbury triangle croissant dough.  I can make a dozen for the price of one and enjoy it without leaving my kitchen.


I have always loved decorating, especially at the change of a season.  At times I feel frustrated in a house full of men; thinking “What’s the point?”  Recently I met with a good friend whose beautifully decorated home inspired me to remember that I do it because it makes me happy.  A quick google search of fall decorating or flipping through a favorite magazine can get my juices flowing to create even small vignettes that make me smile.
Who doesn’t love fresh flowers?  A few years ago when I was daydreaming, as a lot of stay at home moms do, I created my “dream budget.”  It was to include an amount for weekly bouquets.  I don’t treat myself to my favorite florist as often as I’d like but in the summer I pick bouquets from my garden that cost pennies from the seed aisle.  Even a branch from the out of doors can look artfully arranged on your fireplace mantle.

The Knot


In case you haven’t noticed I love all things french so a few years back I searched for french musicians.  I fell in love with a few artists whose songs I may not be able to understand but they can instantly put me in the mood that I’m not surrounded by screaming children, loads of laundry and dozens of action figures.
The woman sets the mood in the home for sure.  It’s sometimes a frustrating responsibility.  It took me a long time to realize I have to make myself happy and can’t wait for someone to do something for me that will make me happy.  For me, surrounding myself with beautiful things and delicacies to eat, good music and lots of fresh air make me happy.  If I take the time to pray and do something for myself before the kiddos wake up (coffee alone=bliss) it’s a definite step in the right direction.  Even throughout the day if I am doing chores while listening to my favorite show, that’s 30 minutes of me time that helps make me a better wife and mother.
What do you do to keep your sanity and include elegant elements in your every day?

Comments are welcome!

My “Studio”

Who doesn’t love to ooh & ahh over other people’s homes?  Get ideas from their designs?  Hello?  Pintrest?!  With the launch of my ‘mini’ businesses (not to mention farm life but La Ferme soy candles & my crafty event planning like Rusty ReDeux & The Gathering)  I’ve been looking for inspiration for my workspaces.  Not just organization (yes ma’am I need that!!!) but it has to look pretty. My Desert Cottage hosts an amazing event each year called Where Bloggers Create!  You can go here and see all of the participants lovely workspaces.  I can hardly wait to see this years, in which I have decided to join in the fun.  No, it’s not because I have a fabulous space.  In fact space is something I’m lacking.  But part of my passion behind anything I do is to ENCOURAGE women.  And honey if I can run a business from my kitchen table then you can too!!!  I do my best business planning while ironing hubby’s shirts (gotta have something to make it less of a chore).  I dream up new packaging while milking the goat.  Building Lincoln Log towers?  Yep….working!!!  I might not have much space to store all the goodies I need but my mind is brimming with ideas; which is why I love what Karen from My Dessert Cottage has done so I can get ideas for my “studio” all the while being inspired.


You know that I’m a farmer so I have several “headquarters” in the barnyard.  The Chateau Poulet is a spot I visit daily.


Now this is a place where some serious work gets done!!!  I’m a planner and a creative soul & it all starts with a beautiful view.  When I’m planning a class for Rusty ReDeux or dreaming up booth displays a shady tree is perfect for me.

I store paint and shovels, seeds & feed, bubbles & baseball bats; all in here.


Inside the house I do a lot of work on the computer.  Yes honey Facebook can be considered working!!!  I also make my soy candles in the house.  I store all of my notebooks, scraps of lace, fragrance oils, wax, lids, twine, clay, etc, etc in a small room off my kitchen.  I’m not sure what purpose the room was intended for, maybe a pantry of sorts, but I fit two pieces of furniture in there.  A small rolltop and an old changing table with a burlap skirt.

Every girl needs a tape measurer.


Using precious vertical space for past & future class projects.


Ribbons & baubles


Stacked Storage

What I love most about the Where Bloggers Create ‘challenge’ is that next year I can look back and see where I was just 7 short months after launching 2 businesses at once!  And seeing how far I’ve come.  Hopefully no matter how much space I might physically have I will be overflowing with dreams & the joy I get from creating.



Comments are welcome!

Glamping Sneak Peek

Some people say to me:  You sure don’t look like a farmgirl.  You like camping?!  You’re so girly I bet you wished you had daughters of your own.

These comments do not bother me at all!  In fact I can see why they say that.  I wear a dress to Walmart!  With makeup on!  It’s just how I am (had two beautician grandmothers) and keeping it fancy on the farm is how I like it.  Which is one reason why I love Mary Jane!  She is the original fancy farmgirl!  I love to browse her magazine and website on how to live the farm life organically and all the while doing it with 100 % girlpower!  I can’t wait for her new book “Glamping” to be released!!!

The boys & I are going to rough it in a tent in the Teton Mountains this summer and I’m so excited!!  For Christmas I asked for camping plates, vintage linens & swiss army blankets!  I plan on photographing like mad while there for an upcoming story for Parisienne Farmgirl Magazine.  I have been blessed to have contributed to the first two issues along with a full page ad for The Gathering in the latest magazine.

Here’s a sneak peek of the goodies I’m bringing.

Grey swiss army blanket with red trim & embroidered pillowcases.


Lantern & frame snatched from the boys’ bedroom!


I got these gorgeous linens from Farmstead. She is now selling her wares at Bottoms Up Antique Market!



Comments are welcome!

The Gathering: Speaker


There are some days when things just fall into place.  I was so star struck when I met the co-owner of Raised In Cotton that I could barely talk!  And to think that she will be the guest speaker for our event in September is really so exciting for me!

Carol is passionate about encouraging women to embrace their dreams and live creatively.  Yes…one of my passions as well!  Her Dream*Create*Shine mantra could not be more fitting for The Gathering.

Please enjoy her bio and by all means subscribe to her blog, be inspired & come and meet her at The Gathering!

Growing up on her families farm in Arkansas, Carol Spinski learned the

beautiful art of arranging every day elements to enhance her surroundings.

A talent for design assembly was forged from those early childhood

experiences on the family farm which echo’s in the work she does today.

Carol’s career path as a Photographer and Editorial Stylist has been a

natural progression that has allowed her to share her inspiration with

others. She is the co-owner of

Raised In Cotton, a business featuring Home

Decor and Event Styling in a century old farmhouse just outside of Kansas

City, Missouri. Carol’s signature style is romantically atmospheric,

multilayered and textural, flavored with the vintage aesthetic she adores.

She and her work

have been featured in Artful Blogging, Somerset Life,

Somerset Life Calendars, Romantic Country Magazine, Romantic Homes

Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, Kansas City Homes and

Gardens and Spaces Magazine

. Most recently the circa 1865 farmhouse

that she and her husband decorated and renovated was in the book

Romantic Prairie Style by Fifi O’Neill. Her upcoming projects include a

collaboration with Matthew Mead that will be featured in the Winter 2012

issue of

Holiday With Matthew Mead.









Comments are welcome!

Red, White & Ewww!

I hope everyone had a wonderful & safe 4th enjoying family & friends while celebrating our nation’s freedom.  Watching a child’s face as they stare in wonder & excitement at the fireworks is pure joy.


A few days ago a friend came over so we could pickle beets.  My husband loves them (no thank you I just cannot eat the things) and it was almost his birthday but I was intimidated to do it myself.  We had a great time and ended up with 7 quarts of beets and several left over to roast with the potatoes & onions from the garden.  The beets we used are red & white striped, not the typical all over red, Chioggia is the varitey.  Some of the beets were even completely white when we pulled them out of the ground.

Photo is linked to Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds where we order from.


Here is the recipe we used from All

10 pounds fresh small beets, stems removed

  •                     2 cups white sugar
  •                     1 tablespoon pickling salt
  •                     1 quart white vinegar
  •                     1/4 cup whole cloves


  1.                     Place beets in a large stockpot with water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes depending on the size of the beets. If beets are large, cut them into quarters. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the beet water, cool and peel.
  2.                     Sterilize jars and lids by immersing in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Fill each jar with beets and add several whole cloves to each jar.
  3.                     In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, beet water, vinegar, and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil. Pour the hot brine over the beets in the jars, and seal lids.
  4.                     Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.


I’m trying to not be as scared of canning and with the help of friends I’m excited to learn.  Hmmmm maybe I should hold a class on it…..

What are you preserving from your garden?


Comments are welcome!
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