Saturday, March 30, 2013

Growing Closer To Farm Animals

There was nothing special about our decision to visit my dad's farm yesterday, except that everything about it felt special.  The shock of my dad moving an hour away to raise animals and play farmer has worn off, and I'm almost comfortable when I pull up to his Winnebago he calls home.  Not that living in a motor home is shocking, but to see it with its redneck addition is a site.  Redneck addition is what my dad calls the 12x12 room that he built on the side of the Winne that contains his bathroom, shower, laundry room, and full kitchen.

To be honest, I used to not love going up there.  It was fun to see my dad have us there, but it's farming-the real version.  It's not the cool hipster farming that I had dreamed in my head.  He's got smelly pigs, piles of trash to burn, and he hasn't built that pool that he promised me if I gave him grandchildren.  As I pulled out of the city yesterday, Starbucks in hand and kids loaded with snacks, I got giddy.  I was getting out of town and it felt exciting and calming all at once.  

But, enough about me and how I felt.  The fantastic thing about this trip to the farm was watching Burl and Fern with the animals.  Burl was brave and eager as soon as I opened the car door.  He shot into farm life with ease and confidence, and he couldn't move fast enough.  I watched him take his bucket to the trough in the field, and he operated smoothly as the cows came closer for the food.  

Fern was a different story.  She screamed and cried when I first sat her down and the small one-eyed blind dog came around the car.  However, things quickly turned around for her.  While Burl probably got MVP, Fern definitely gets Most Improved.  Within a couple of hours she was petting baby ducks, yelling at the pigs, and chasing chickens.

The real McCoy...hunting for eggs in a coop.

After we fed the cows and pigs, collected eggs, and visited the baby ducks and chickens, we had lunch.  My dad made chicken salad on rolls, apple slices, and banana pudding from scratch.  It must be noted that the mayo and pudding were made from the eggs from dad's farm.  Cause that's how we roll.  Lunch was an adventure, and the kids acted like they've never eaten in a Winne before.  Oh, but they have.

After lunch, Burl had a few more farmer things to check off his list: feed the cows again, this time with the tractor; look at all the tools; and explore the barn.  Fern just toddled around like she owned the place, as she was decked out with a new kind of confidence.

In a world where we're growing more distant from the beginnings of food and animals and life in general, I have to say that it makes me so thankful that my children have this farm at their disposal.  While farm animals are still growing on my animal-cold heart, I can tell that Burl and Fern are growing up with an ease and comfort to accepting farm life as normal.  

I don't think going to a farm regularly is one of those things that I would say is just great for kids.    It's a take it or leave it thing for me, but I might say I'm becoming a believer.  Either way, I will say that with kids it is very special.  

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Free Spray Tan, 3 Outfits, & Patty's Good Words

I was recently approached at church with a free offer for a spray tan.  Literally.  A gal {that I know by sight more than conversation} approached me.  She said that she won a free spray tan at a moms group and will never use it.  She went on to explain that I seemed like I would be interested or know someone who would be.  I wasn't offended or anything, and I was able to find a happy recipient within 60 seconds of receiving the certificate.  However, I was a little thrown-off-kilter.

I was hoping my look said, "effortless natural beauty" or "simple and no-fuss."  I thought my daily $3 pearl earrings and almost-everyday side swoop hairstyle were classic and basic and showed little-to-no effort.  I guess I was wrong, because when I "look like someone who would like a spray tan or know someone who would," the only words that come to mind are high maintenance. Dang.  And here I was thinking I was all outdoorsy and simple.  

Here are a few pictures of my clothes this week.  The pictures a little bigger than normal, because I'm in this go-big-or-go-home attitude.  Obviously taking pictures of myself and posting them online takes a little sass.  And today I have sass, the nice kind.

Tanks: Old Navy
Cardigan: Target
Pants: Old Navy

Errands, worked at the climbing gym, played with the kids, visited a friend
Tee: Target
Jacket: Amazon (off season clearance, holla!)
Jeans: Gap outlet

Played with kids, ran errands, had a playdate
Ruffle tee underneath: Made by me

Open Cardigan: Old Navy
Jeans: Gap Outlet
Children: the cutest shadows ever

Most of our clothes come from the Gap/Old Navy family.  I've been a loyal customer for such a long time.  Since I'm 6 feet tall, it's hard to find clothes.  Gap was one of the first stores to offer tall and we've been in a serious marriage relationship since then.  I'm a loyal customer who started working there at 17, and worked for the company for over 5 years.  They not only offer tall, but they have an ever taller length for super tall people like myself.  Also, they started offering tall in things other than just pants.  Other companies do this too, but the Gap company suits me the best.  Plus, I totally know how to work the system when it comes to sales.  Mama never pays full price.

Here I am.  Thinking I'm all easy-going and simple when it comes to getting ready, but maybe I'm not.  Maybe I'm high maintenance.  Maybe I'm something in between.  While we live in a world where we're figuring each other out, I try to remember what my smart friend Patty tells me: no one thinks about themselves more than we think about ourselves.. I've got to be what I want me to be.

For more ladies talking about their clothes, go to The Pleated Poppy.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

This Week's Menu

Here's my Sunday night tradition.  I sit down and post my menu for the week, because most of the time, I forget what I have planned.  Here's my reminder, and here's a sneak peak into our nights.
Happy eating, folks!

Spice-crusted tilapia, acorn squash, sauteed green beans
Sweet potato fries, lima beans, broccoli
Penne and vegetable tomato sauce
Pintos, grilled okra, snap peas, cheese 
Steamed shrimp, pesto pea and spinach salad

Friday, March 22, 2013

Simple Thankfulness

Today, I'm sharing some simple things from my day for which I am thankful.  Emphasis on SIMPLE:

 New sunglasses, a cute clutch (gifted from John), and a season of life that I only need a few things to leave the house.  Oh the freedom!

A clean kitchen to start the weekend right-clean counters, you calm my heart. 

Burl's awesome, dedicated help to pick up before his nap.  His reward: getting to nap on the floor on the den.  He slept for almost two hours there.  Sweet thing. 

Kind Starbucks drive-thru girl who gave me two little cups of whipped cream for the kids.  It kept me from having to share my drink, and it was so cute to see them enjoy it.  

Change. Sometimes choosing to focus on good things and be thankful can really change the momentum of a dark day{s}.

Happy weekend to you and yours!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

3-Mustard Honey Mustard

I'm pretty sure that 48% of the grocery store is part of the condiment world.  Really, it's over-kill.  Mustards are about the fanciest condiment that we have right now, and we just took them to the next American level.    Let me introduce you to our new guilty pleasure, honey mustard.

Mayo + honey + yellow mustard + course mustard + grey poupon = crack cocaine.  

I dipped, or drowned, my sweet potato fries in them and it took this meal to the next level.  Even my black-eyed peas took a dip.  Go ahead, treat.yo.self.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Raw Milk Adventure

We've been having some fun days here lately.  Little excursions that are beyond play dates and kids' hour at the library are popping up weekly, and we're taking full advantage of them.  Last Friday, my neighbor-friend asked if we would like to go with her to pick up her raw milk.  It was a 15 minute drive to a working farm perched on a ridge overlooking two sprawling valleys and our local mountain.  

The kids were captured by the animals.  Burl had questions, because he's in that I can talk and I'm figuring stuff out stage that doesn't stop.  I love conversing with him, but I also love the weekends when John takes the reign on explaining things to him.  Fern LOVED the animals until the cow moo'd.  She was officially spooked and could only observe them from a safe distance.

After we observed all the animals two times each, we were about to leave and I spotted the ranch hand.  (Don't think that I don't love that I just used the words ranch hand as part of my normal speech.  I'm so down with rural living.  Yeah, so down.)  I struck up a conversation with him that started with, "my dad just got into a farming." (Dad, I know you just gasped out loud.  You're feeling validated, aren't you?  Go ahead, own it.)  We got to talking (cause farmers don't start anything-they get to doing something), and I do what I do best with people from 'round these parts: I find a mutual friend.  Living in a big small town makes it easy to connect to a lot of people.  One thing led to another and he started telling me about the lake on the farm.  Say what!?!  He said I could go, so I dusted up that back road down the mountain about a mile through some woods until they opened up to a pond/lake, more animals, a better view of the mountain, rolling hills, and a big sky.  A little utopia for my Friday.

I snapped a few pictures, then just sat there, taking it all in.  My happy, exploring kids. The sun. No place to be.  Our surroundings.  It was an easy kind of peaceful that was laid upon me unexpectedly, and I got there right in the moment.  Deep breathing and all.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

This Week's Menu

John and I simultaneously said it: we want more all-veggie nights for dinner.  I was making our menu and was about to ask him if he was ok with 2-3 veggie nights every week, but before I said anything he asked if we could have 2-3 veggie nights every week.  Talk about match-made-in-heaven.  Veggies, we're coming for you!

Ribs, chips & paleo spinach dip
Veggie night (steamed carrots, broccoli, acorn squash, thyme corn)
Steamed shrimp, pesto pea & spinach salad
Veggie night (sweet potato fries, roasted aparagus, black eyed peas, bacon brussel sprouts)
Dairy-free butternut squash soup
Ham, tomato, spinach, & swiss quiche

Saturday, March 16, 2013

My Green Smoothie

To take a day from great to amazingly stellar, I like to drink one of these tall boys for breakfast.  

Frozen Strawberries
Two Super-Ripe Bananas
Bunch Of Raw Spinach
Almond Milk
Apple Juice

Friday, March 15, 2013

Decorating Direction & Inspiration

Can I offer a little decorating advice?  Advice might be the wrong word, how about if I say that I want to share something that I've picked up along the way of learning my style.  It all started when I was registering for my wedding.  My matron of honor went with me, and she's a stellar decorator and ahead of me in the homemaking game.  I was scanning away and she finally said, "Stop! I can't figure out your style. We need to talk." She pointed out that I was liking a lot of different stuff across the board and making weird decisions.  

Right there in Pier 1 I learned about styling.  I learned that I should probably pick a style (to which there are several) and stick with it.  She wasn't trying to box me in to something rigid.  I wasn't registering for ivy painted plates, then going for deep red velour curtains, then choosing a sailor inspired tissue box (wait, I did have one of those at some point in my life).  And she certainly wasn't making me pick a theme like that.  It was more of a direction than anything.

That's when I got it.  I've learned over the years that I like a lot of different styles, but there is an underlying theme that is really me.  I've picked three pictures that are my all time favorites.  So much of what I want to be and where I want to grow are in these pictures.  When I think about changing up a wall decor or making some pillows or just dreaming what I would like to do in the future, I think about these pictures.  They're me and I love them and they have different things about each of them that I want.

If you're interested, then here's what I learned: plants in our home is a must, that it's good to mix unexpected patterns and colors together (I'm looking at you, sage and aqua), pictures of cool colored nature scenes are a household favorite, and I love balance and clean lines.


I've heard decorating advice that says, "just pick what you like and it will all work."  The people who say that have the gift of being eclectic and chic, and that's just not all of us.  It's certainly not me.  While I'm all about trying new things and taking some chances, I know that there are certain things that I'm always drawn to.  I still come back to a few basic feelings and direction that I know to be what I love.  These pictures here, I love so many things about them.  They provide direction and inspiration and serve as a tool to help me find more of my personal style. These days, anything that helps me find my own decorating style is fine by me!

Please, if you want to pin any of these pictures, please go to the source and pin from there.  I've put the source under each picture and made it larger as to encourage checking out their homes.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Birthday Party Weekend

The theme from this past weekend was Birthday Parties.  We had four celebrations go down in two days and it was epic.  We had Burl's party, brothers/sister goings on for Joseph's 30th, James' (Burl's little buddy) party, and Joseph's family party.  It.was.big. Here's how we partied for Burl:

Burl told me he wanted a red firefighter party.  Everyone teased me because red and I don't get along, but we set aside our differences for the sake of Burlito.  Look at me in that red sweater, Mama dresses for the occasion.  Basically, we had some snacks, cake, and a couple of firefighter games for a few of his friends.  With the kids, parents, and family, we might have had 40 people here.  Ya know, just a small little shindig.  

The first of the two games was an obstacle course.  Everyone but Burl got the concept (we may have had a little meltdown with him) right away.  Eventually he got it.  Here's how it went: drive Burl's firetruck (aka red tractor) down the sidewalk, get off and put on a firefighter hat, step through the ladder (with the help of my niece), climb an upright ladder, rescue Curious George, and come back down.  The kids did great!

Next up, we had Pretend that cardboard house is on fire and we have to put it out but we aren't using a hose, we're using hard to pop water balloons game.  It was a hit, no pun intended.  People got wet.  Fun was had.  It was great.

These were the last three boys standing.  They were fighting over the un-popped balloons, getting wet in the process.  Muy exciting.

Next up, we went in for some food.  I made several little sandwiches, bought some goldfish, served juice, and they ate it up.  I wasn't in there the whole time, but apparently it was quiet because they were enjoying their food.  Play hard, eat hard.  

Look at that firefighter cake.  I didn't make it, but I ordered it.  These little scenes on top of cakes things is awesome and tacky to me-two things that go well together, like wine and cheese.  Also, it really provides for toddler hype.  This boy was excited about his cake!

We paused for a brief family picture.  

Before I go any further, I would like to say a little note about hosting kids birthday parties.  I have seen a handful of crazy moms out there who yell, direct, and control their way through their kids parties and basically it's awkward and weird and fun is not had.  I don't want to be that way.  Right before the party started I was tying up a few loose ends and apparently I was anything but laid back.  John had a talk with me about how the house looks great and I don't have to be stressed and yadiyadiyada.  Good stuff to say to me, but I was being weird.  He took the kids to play in Burl's room.  I stopped what I was doing, left a few imperfections out for everyone to see, poured a cup of coffee and joined them.  {Hint: my new thing is leave a few imperfections before a party starts to help me let go of my grip on perfection.  Dishes in the sink, partly dead flower, it's how I roll these days.} I met John and he talked to me some more, and I apologized for the past 20 minutes.  Then, the party arrived.  I didn't feel frantic during the party.  I felt excited.  When Burl had his little meltdown, I wasn't thrown too off course.  Things don't go perfectly, especially with toddlers.  

Thank goodness I let go of cleanliness and perfection, because my brothers started a mini food fight with Burl, based off of Hook, to which they love to expose Burl. Bangarang

One of my highlights of the party, was having Lauren and her family join us.  I've mentioned Lauren before, and it's no secret that we're pretty close.  Like sisters.  Having her there felt like my family was complete.  She lingered after everyone left and we took some time to take pictures.

I like to call the above picture, Best Friends, Like Sisters, Future In-laws.  Our kids' marriages have already been arranged.  It's a no brainer. 

We closed the weekend with a trip to Joseph's restaurant of choice.  It was one of those restaurants where they cook the food in front of you.  Fire? Definitely.  I think it was a great ending to the firefighter birthday weekend.  

Happy Birthday to Burl, James, and especially to my younger brother Joseph.
Joseph, I hope 30s treat you well!