May 30, 2013

Farm Living: Little Surprises

 A friend recently asked what keeps me busy at the farm.  I thought it was a great question, and since I've never lived on a farm before it's one worth pondering. I think what took me by surprise is the constant work.  Not overwhelming, unhappy work, but just the day to day stuff.  I thought more acreage would simply mean more grass to mow; however, it's much more than that.  Fencing alone (building, repairing, changing) could be a full time job.  Now I understand why ranchers have hired help for the fences.  My sweet man does 90% of the work around here but my muscles still ache in the evenings.

We all work together.  Mostly happily... sometimes with attitudes that match the mud on the bottom of our boots.  The kids help best when there is a bribe of riding 4wheelers or going into town for a shaved ice.  They're kids, after all.  And I'm not above parental bribery.

I discovered a huge, wild rose bush in our backyard this May.  The blooms are so fragrant.  They only lasted a couple of weeks, but they were a wonderful little treat.  I felt like they were a bouquet sent from God.
 Farm life isn't always work.  I love that my kids can step away (sometimes into another world) into a good book.  My sweet boy just finished reading all 7 books of The Chronicles of Narnia.  When he finished, he declared, "time to start over!"  That boy sure knows how to make me melt.

In the 7 months we've lived at the farm, we've had more than 8 major events at the farm.  I think my fear of isolation has completely dissolved.  A pleasant surprise.  We've had maybe three Saturdays without anyone stopping by; and those were probably rainy Saturdays.  We love that friends and family want to come out for a visit.

If you cook it, they will come.   NC is famous for its vinegary bbq sauce and my husband's family recipe is noteworthy. I don't really like pork, but they still let me live here and make the side fixins'.  

Our visitors come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Rocky and Neicy came for a 5 month visit.  The timing was perfect, right after Pickles the goat died.  Good medicine for my heartbroken girl. 

Since our goat visitors left, we've added 3 new goats to the farm.  More pics to come.

 Overall, I think the tranquillity (mixed with the physical labor) has been the most surprising.  In the evenings, when the shadows are long, I love walking out to the field.  I would have never guessed that a field full of happy chickens could bring such a sense of peace.
 My kids have found peace here, too.  After arriving home from a visit to the mountains, my daughter (who happened to be the one least excited about moving to a farm) said, "I love it here.  We have found our true home."
As I type these last words, I am overwhelmed by a sense of contentment.  Not because of a new place to live, but because my children belong here.  Their own sense of contentment should not come as a surprise, but it does.  And I am grateful.

May 24, 2013

Do You Antique?

Does the word "antique" make you smile or turn up your nose?  I have to admit the smell of most antique stores makes me wrinkle my nose.  Literally.  The thrill of the hunt is what keeps me coming back, even though 97% of the time I walk out of those places empty handed.

But then I run across an inspiration like this (at the local coffee house) and I suddenly want to search for an aqua phone and an old fan.
Isn't that the cutest display eva?  When I retire from motherhood (ha!) I think I'll open a coffee shop and create cute little montages like this.

There is a delicate balance between using antiques with discernment and having antiques that scream J.U.N.K!  It is important to find things that share a common ground.  In the photo above, it is the light aqua color and school day charm.  

I've started a collection of enamel pots above my kitchen cabinets.  Don't get grossed out, but the pot  with the red handle is the pee pot my husband's father used growing up. Yes, it's been washed.  I think it's pretty cool.  The others have been yard sale and antique store finds.  

Speaking of my father-in-law... he found a ladder back chair for me.  When I turned it around, I found this gem on the back:

"State College Property 1935"  Oh the learning that occurred in that chair!

I love that some antiques have a story that speaks for itself.  I recently ran across a quilt that had been lovingly made by a group of women.  They each stitched their signature on the squares they had quilted.  Oh the conversations that occurred at that quilting bee!  Totally regretting not purchasing the quilt, by the way.

The best thing about antiquing is finding something that you know you can use with something you already have.  Old and new.  It's a beautiful combination.

Check out this idea, again, from the coffee shop:
 A-mazing.  Painted pallet.  Bike on the wall.  Red watering can.  Sigh.

May 20, 2013

Summer ReFresh (without buying a new couch)

  Do you feel refreshed when you walk into your living room?  Do you wish you could create a new space without spending a fortune? Now that the summer months are upon us, you might be dreaming of a light and bright space, but your big brown couch is in the way.

Let's suppose you are starting with a basic brown couch, like this Ikea Ektorp.
Most of us can't afford seasonal couches, so today we are going to see how modifying just a few accessories can completely change the feel of a room.  
Let's suppose we started with this:
The lamp is a good starting point because the base is neutral enough to go with any color scheme.  The shade can easily be changed, but as you will see, it can look fabulous (as-is) when paired with the right side table.

By adding just a few accessories, this winter couch can become a summer delight.
 Shop the house before heading out to buy. Many of the small accessories might be something you have around the house.  If your room is still feeling dark or heavy, try adding a mirror to reflect more light throughout the room.  Your budget may allow for new end tables, but before you purchase, see if what you already own can bring new life into the room.  You might have a small table hiding in the attic that could be painted back to life.

Don't let that old couch get the best of you!  Bring on the summer fun!

May 17, 2013

Friday Fashion

Do you feel like you wear the same things over and over?  I decided to figure out a way to update my wardrobe without spending much moolah.  Window shopping wears me out, but discovering new outfit possibilities online can be so much fun!  Even though I don't have the funds to go on a shopping spree, I can still look for basic items that will carry me a long way.I went on an imaginary shopping spree and came up with these:

Cool Tones for a Cool Day
 I always gravitate to the blues and greens.  They are soothing, but they can also be fun!  A chambray shirt is the new little black dress: it goes with everything.  I already have the shirt, so I'm on the lookout for some green pants/capris this season.

Navy is a Neutral
Whether you are wearing a navy skirt or throwing on your favorite blue jeans, navy can be paired with just about anything.  Stripes are very popular but sometimes I feel like a striped bus when I wear them on top.  I love this shirt because the stripes are bold, but not overpowering . 

Errands in Style
Since I'm at home most days, and yoga pants are the norm, I like to throw on something sassy (but comfortable!!) to run errands.  Pink and grey make me smile.  The other "basic" on my list to find for this summer is a grey knit skirt.  As a nice basic piece, it will get good mileage!

Date Night Dress
A chambray dress is almost as good as a Mocha Frap on a hot day.  The possibilities are endless.  I loved throwing a pop of orange with it for summer.  My daughter has a chambray dress that just happens to be my size.  Sly grin...

Sailing Away

Summer is the perfect time to pull of the nautical look without looking like you are engaged to Captain Nemo.  I love every stinkin thing about this outfit! The cuff bracelet might be my favorite, but that fun bag is a close second!  This outfit is casual, but put together.  Hmm... I think that's my goal most days!

Cool and Comfortable

Last but not least, let's be real.  Most days, I find myself in shorts, a tee, and sneakers.  Who says that has to be frumpy?  I love mixing two bold colors with a neutral (the white tee) for balance.  When shopping for clothes, I rarely buy an outfit for a specific event.  Rather, I try to buy basics that will go with other basics.  Throw in a fun accessory and it becomes an outfit.

What's your favorite go-to summer outfit?

May 15, 2013

Serving Beyond

Some years Mother's Day floats by unannounced and easily forgotten.  Don't get me wrong, my kids and husband always celebrate and treat me like a queen for the day, but this year the celebration took on a new dimension.  Service.  I had the privilege of serving the women of our church at our first annual Mothers Day Tea.  I had been asked to take care of the tables, which was like asking Charlie if he would like to taste the chocolate in the factory.  I had so much fun creating centerpieces and finding all the components to a festive, girly table arrangement.  Finding enough for 200+ ladies was challenging but rewarding.  

 The week prior to the event I was sure my new neighbors thought I had lost my mind.  After all, who spray paints 30+ sticks for two afternoons straight?  Crazy ladies on a budget, that's who!
My sweet man even got involved.  The butterfly paper punch proved to be too much for my little muscles, so he brought in his big guns and cut out more butterflies in 15 minutes than I had done in an hour.
I loved seeing all of the fun little details come together.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, matching straws and navy chocolate covered candies are not that big of deal; but it sure was a joy to see the finished product bless the ladies at the event.  

The greatest delight, however, was watching my sweet mom and my precious girls open their hearts and hands in service as well.  In other words, they worked like the dickens!    My kids (and my mom) worked without complaint on Friday as we set up for 4 hours.  On Saturday, my mom and girls helped load plates, fill tea dispensers, and serve the multitude.  We served enough fruit kabobs and scones to make the English proud.

In reality, I was the one who was proud...  the healthy kind of proud.  I was so proud to see my kids not only do what was asked of them, but to go beyond.  When they finished a task, they asked what they could help with next.  They offered others assistance.  
They served beyond.  
It really didn't matter who noticed, because for a moment it was just between Jesus and me. It was a moment that I gulped in the air that a mother needs to breathe.  The life giving moment when a momma sees the fruit of her labor.  It's the sum of all the little moments of investing into their hearts displayed.  
Yes, I have good kids, but let's be real.  They are typical kids who argue, roll their eyes, make poor choices.  Just like their momma.  They don't serve me bon bons (whatever the heck those are!) and ask if they can put away the dishes.  BUT, in the moment of serving others, they went beyond... and blessings abounded.

Mother's Day afternoon looked like this.  The weather was perfect, so I officially took the day off and read a book by the pond with kids' laughter as my playlist.

I'm linking up with Imparting Grace's Grace at Home series and Titus2sdays

May 3, 2013

Preteen Room Reveal

My middle daughter and I have very similar tastes when it comes to home decor.  Her room has been so fun to put together.  Our starting point was the comforter from PB Teen.  I almost didn't order it because it was on clearance with a no return policy.  I'm so glad we took the chance.

She wanted to have watermelon pink as an accent color so we found the shams at TJ Maxx on clearance for $5 apiece.  The headboard is my favorite because it was mine as a preteen.  It used to be white, but we added Krylon Watermelon Pink spray paint and I love it even more!
The walls are Sherwin Williams Tame Teal SW6757.  She wanted a "happy color" and Sherwin delivered.

This is my favorite space ... the reading nook.

So many friends have asked if I painted the picture.  Oh how I wish I could claim its lusciousness!  I squealed when I discovered it at Hobby Lobby because I knew the colors were perfect for this space.

 My sweet girl loves her alone time.  She's creative and an amazing writer.  She spends lots of time thinking up new things for her space.  She created this pinboard with some fun fabric we found at Joanne's.

Every time I enter her room I smile.  Her room holds special memories for me.  My childhood mirror, bed, and even my hope chest are being put to good use.  There are still a few things we would like to tweak, like adding ruffles to the bottom of the curtains; but for now, it is the perfect space for my girl.

I'm linking up with 
Shabby Creek Cottage
From My Front Porch to Yours
The 36th Avenue
The Charm of Home
Savvy Southern Style
Imparting Grace

May 1, 2013

Asparagus You Won't Turn Down

 Until about 3 years ago, I turned my nose up at the thought of asparagus.  Now I can't get enough!  If you've never been a fan, give this recipe a try.  Now is the time to do it because it is in season and fairly well priced.

1. Rinse stems and cut off tough bottoms (usually about an inch).
 2. Place in a Ziploc bag with 2Tbs olive oil and 1Tbs Herbes de Provence and shake vigorously.  If you don't have a Savory spice shop I feel very sorry for you no worries, you can make your own seasoning.  If you click on the photo above, you can see the ingredients on the bag.

3. Place on a large cookie sheet and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
4. Place under the broiler --or on the grill--  for 5-8min.
I'm linking up with Imparting Grace today!