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Archive for the ‘Farmgirl Friends’ Category

I did a Christmas in July gift exchange on MaryJanesFarm.org.  I got paired up with StarMeadow from Michigan.  We emailed and exchanged ideas about what we might like but decided we would basically surprise eachother with a box full of stuff.  My box came from StarMeadow earlier this week.  All I can say is WOW!!!

Here is my box of loot!

Fist off the box itself is beautiful. It is one of those photo storage type boxes with an herb print on it.  Also included was a cute little bunny, a dishcloth hand knit by StarMeadow, a little handbag with a chinese fan pattern, a bar of handmade lavender peppermint soap (smells SOOO good), a little finger pincushion complete with some cute pins, a Rada Cutlery Pairing knife, a ball of Magic Stripes yarn, some fabric with different bluework designs on it, a bag of beads, a little book called Girlfriend Gumbo, and an antique ice cream/shortening spoon because I collect antique kitchen tools. This was such a great gift!  I truely enjoyed this exchange.  StarMeadow hasn’t gotten the box I sent her yet.  I hope it gets there by monday!  Thanks so much T.!  I really had fun!

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I received several REALLY great entries for the Name the Hen house Contest!  The winner selected was Mary G. of Heavenly Angels in Need.  Her suggestion was Outback Chicken Shack!!!  I Just love it!  So Outback Chicken Shack will be painted onto the Hen house and Mary will be receiving a lovely chicken prize from an Etsy seller. (To be announced soon!) 

Here is some info about Mary’s Organization that you might like to check out.

The following except is taken from Mary’s website http://heavenlyangelsinneed.com.  You can also learn more about them from this PDF file http://heavenlyangelsinneed.com/Media/MEDIA%20Kit.pdf.

  

Heavenly Angels in Need’s mission is to serve all babies,children and their families in need. We knit, crochet, sew, craft and more to try and fill every need possible. We serve Children’s hospitals, Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU), Pregnancy Crisis Centers, Shelters, Foster care situations, emergent situations and more.

We also help grieving families by supplying them with much needed burial and memorial items and offer resources and a place to come together and talk and share.

 We give clothing, blankets, hats, booties, Special Kids Bags, and more to all babies and children in need. We are reaching out to the World sharing the love of God through giving.

 

Heavenly Angels in Need’s mission is to help every baby and child who need.

 

 Thanks to everyone who entered and took a look at my blog!

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The week 6 topic of the Farmgirl Blog-A-Thon is “Furry and Feathered Friends”!  I love my furry and feathered friends!  My dogs and cats are like my children! 

My love for animals began when I was a small child!  As a little girl my parents had a cat named Tycoon.  I don’t remember her a bit except from pictures but Mom and Dad always talked like she was a really special cat.

Once my sister came along and we got a little older we got a dog named Scruffy.  Eventually Scruffy went to “stay at the farm” and we missed him.

We went on to have pet birds and fish. All staying with us varying amounts of time.  One rainy and cold evening a little gray cat wandered up on to the back porch.  My sister and I begged and begged dad to let us keep her.  Finally he caved and we got to keep the cat we named Precious.  Precious even made the move to Vermont with us and lived happily wandering our seven acres until about the time I got ready to go to college when she went to “Kitty heaven”.

In 1990 my sister and I convinced mom and dad that it was time to get a new dog.  On January 10th, 1990, Brandy was born and shortly after she came to live with us.  Brandy was the first dog I really fell in love with. Brandy lived about 14 years and my parents finally had to have her put down.  I was already married and moved away but it was still a terrible heartbreak when she died.

Living on our “farm” here in Arkansas I have had so many pets I can’t even count or remember them!  We have had tons of cats over the years.  5 of the pet dogs we have had have since died.  Currently we have 3 horses, 4 dogs, 4 cats and 5 kittens.

Here are a few pictures of the “kids” that I haven’t posted before.

Hagrid

Kensi

Obama and BB

Lily

Eggnog (In a box?!)

Eggnog (In another, different box)

Thunder, Lily and Eggnog

I love my pets!  I am getting my chicken on Saturday! So be watching for some pics of my new feathered friends!

To learn more about the Farmgirl Blog-a-Thon please check out http://gardengoose.blogspot.com/.

To learn more about being a Farmgirl please check out www.maryjanesfarm.org.

BE SURE TO VISIT THESE FARM GIRL BLOGS!!

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The week 5 topic of the Farmgirl Blog-a-thon is “getting crafty”.  I am all about crafty but something always seems to happen during the months of April and May and I do VERY LITTLE crafting!  Maybe it is because things get so hectic at school, maybe it is because it is warmer and I spend more time outside.  Last night was the first night I came inside before 8:30 PM and that was only because it was raining!

Of course I have my own crafting “business” through my website www.willowtreecreek.com.  I make a variety of different things for that.  I also make and sell Wine Glass Charms to the Orchard House Bed and Breakfast in Lovingston, VA! (In light of full disclosure I should mention that the Orchard House is owned and operated by my parents!)

Last summer I was filmed for an episode of “That’s Clever” for HGTV.  The episode will air sometime in 2009!  I made a toy tote and an MP3 player cover for the show.

I teach K-12 art so I am constantly doing “Crafty” things at school.  My second graders are in the process of making Chilean Rainsticks right now as part of our year long look at “Art Around the World”.

Personally, 2 projects have been consuming my life in the last few months and I guess they fall under the category of “getting crafty.”

Project #1 – Prom “Lost in Paradise”

As Junior class sponsor one of my duties is to help the students prepare for the prom.  That includes decorating and as the art teacher often includes MAKING decorations!  Most of March and part of April was consumed with building things for Prom.  Our theme was “Lost in Paradise” and the dance, along with a dinner baquet, was held in our school cafeteria.  Here are some pictures of the things we made.

In this picture is the “Tiki Hut”. I designed it and the Agri Classes actually put it together.  We painted it and added the grass skirts to the top.  The plants at the bottom came in a kit but had to be assembled.  I painted 2008 and the Hibiscus on the window in the background.  One of the Juniors boyfriends made the surfboard.  The little swimming pool held the drinks.

In this picture you can see the beautifully decorated tables.  Each setting had a brightly colored imprinted napkin, a program which I designed on my computer and a little tropical umbrella.  Each chair had a flower lei draped over it.  I the center of each table were candles and little fish bowls with real live goldfish!

The waterfall kit was a pain to put together. It took a team of about 6 of us over 5 hours to assemble!  You can see more of the grass kits in this picture as well as one of the four palm tree kits we built!

As the students came in they crossed over the “swinging” bridge.

Flowing from the waterfall was this river.  It snaked across the cafeteria floor.  We even added real rocks to the water!  The Prom was REALLY nice but was quite an undertaking!  I was very thankful to the 6 kids that actually showed up to help decorate!

Project #2 – Chicken Tractor

I have been wanting to get chickens for a while. I finally convinced my husband it would be cool and set out to build a chicken tractor.  A chicken tractor is a movable chicken coop and hen house.  It allows the birds to be “free range” while still confining them enough to protect them from predators (like my dogs!).

I built the chicken tractor almost completely by myself! I drafted my own design and then purchased all the supplies.  I measured all the pieces.  Learned how to use a skill saw and then put the whole thing together!  My mother in law nailed the roof on the hen house because I hit my thumb with the hammer on the first try and got “gun shy” after that!  The rest was done by ME!!! I am really proud of myself!  All that I have left to do is paint the hen house, build a roost and get the chickens!

To learn more about the Farmgirl Blog-a-Thon please check out http://gardengoose.blogspot.com/.

To learn more about being a Farmgirl please check out www.maryjanesfarm.org.

BE SURE TO VISIT THESE FARM GIRL BLOGS!!

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Gardening is one thing I would really like to learn more about and get more involved in.  I have had a vegetable garden a few times but when I went back to school to get my masters degree I couldn’t find the time to keep it up.  This year I am pledging to get back into it.  I am spending this summer and fall preparing a garden plot for next years garden.  I will be planting a few tomato plants as well as doing some potted herbs this summer to tide me over. 

Eventually I would like to plant enough fruit and veggies over the summer months and learn to can so I am able to preserve the bounty for use during the winter months.  I am taking it one step at a time though.  Here are some of the carrots I grew a few years ago.

Last year I finally took time to put in a flower bed in the front of my house.  I planted rosemary, lavender, sunflowers and a Chinese wisteria.  I have another lavender plant ready to go into it this year. 

Here is how it looked last June.

Here is how it looked at the end of July.

Sunflowers in Bloom last August!

I need to do some work in the bed this year.  The edging needs to be backed up about 6 inches because of where the water drains off the roof.  I need to add a few more bags of soil and some compost to the beds because of water runoff and I need to add some wood mulch.  This is how the bed looked this morning:

My lavender plant looks like it is just about ready to put out some flowers! I am so excited!

To learn more about the Farmgirl Blog-a-Thon please check out http://gardengoose.blogspot.com/.

To learn more about being a Farmgirl please check out www.maryjanesfarm.org.

BE SURE TO VISIT THESE FARM GIRL BLOGS!!

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Let me begin by telling you about my space.  My kitchen has been a work in progress for the last 8 years!  When we first moved in it was AWFUL!  Old appliances, broken cabinet draws, UGLY linolum flooring that was stained, torn, bubbled and just missing in some places! 

The “renovation” began with the replacement of the refridgerator.  The first year we were married we had an old used fridge that was only held shut by propping 2 – 12 packs of sodas in front of it.  Our first large purchase as a couple was a $1,000 fridge from Sears.  It took us nearly a year to pay that thing off! 

A few years later the dishwasher went!  Now the term “domestic bliss” is sortof an oxymoron to me and I am certainly no “domestic goddess”.  Housework is NOT my middle name!  The thought of life without a dishwasher was very frightening! So we trucked over to Best Buy and got a great deal on a “floor model” dishwasher.

The first summer after I started teaching, I got bored. (WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!)  So I decided it would be fun to paint all the kitchen cabinets. (Again, what was I thinking!) The existing cabinets were a medium to dark wood finish.  I decided I wanted to go to a very light sage green sort of color.  Well that ment that 20 years of grime had to be washed off first.  Then all the cabinets needed sanding.  Then primer.  And finally paint!  I also decided to put in new hardware! So all the hardware had to be affixed and the doors all put back in place.  But I am happy I did it because the kitchen feels much roomier and brighter. 

Next came the microwave.  We had had a counter top microwave for years.  I’d been eyeing an over the stove model for sometime and we finally splurged! So I ripped out the old hood and installed the new microwave ALL BY MYSELF!  Yup, that’s right! My husband isn’t exactly the most handy guy in the world!

Then we got the bug to replace all the flooring in the house! Out came the nasty linolum and down went wood laminate floors! They are beautiful and SOOOOO easy to clean!

This Christmas I was finally able to replace my old broken stove with a new 5 burner that I wrote about a few months ago.  I was actually satisfied with my kitchen finally.  Don’t get me wrong! It is NOT my dream kitchen but it’s the one I have and I was finally at a place where I felt happy with it.

Then…back in March my husband was looking to put new windows in the house.  This was another project we had been planning for years.  We were at the store and Richie led me over to the kitchen section.  He told me we could afford a new counter as well and to pick out whatever I wanted!!!!! YEAH!!! So my new counter, sink and faucet have been ordered!  They are set to be installed in about 2 weeks! I can’t wait!

I don’t have any pictures right now but I will put some before and afters when the remodel is done!

Here is one of my most favorite recipes.  I have posted it on my site before but it is worth revisiting! It is perfect for using up that farm fresh milk and eggs that are in the fridge!

Dark Chocolate Mousse
Courtesy of Bobby Flay
Copied from www.foodtv.com


Picture taken from www.foodtv.com

5 1/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
14 ounces cold heavy cream
3 large egg whites
1-ounce sugar
Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish, optional
Shaved bittersweet chocolate, for garnish, optional

 

Place chocolate in a large bowl set over a bain marie or in a double boiler at a low simmer. Stir chocolate until melted. Turn off the heat and let stand.

Beat the cream over ice until it forms soft peaks. Set aside and hold at room temperature. With a mixer, whip egg to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar and continue whipping until firm.

Remove the chocolate from the bain marie and using a whisk, fold in the egg whites all at once. When the whites are almost completely incorporated, fold in the whipped cream. Cover the mousse and refrigerate for approximately 1 hour or until set. Serve in goblets topped with more whipped cream and shaved chocolate, if desired.

 

To learn more about the Farmgirl Blog-a-thon please visit http://gardengoose.blogspot.com.

To learn more about being a Farmgirl please visit www.maryjanesfarm.org.

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Welcome to my second post in the Farmgirl Blog-a-thon! This weeks topic is “What being a farmgirl means to me”.

The blog-a-thon is being hosted by my friend Tina over at http://gardengoose.blogspot.com.  You can also see my previous post to learn more about the blog-a-thon.

I have talked on this subject a little before but I will try to go into a little more about my journey to farmgirlhood!

I really think my initial journey into farmgirlhood began in 1987 when my family moved to Vermont just before I entered the fourth grade.  We moved from a crowded neighborhood in a fairly large Connecticut town to a large rural farmhouse in the Village of Quechee, Vermont!  We were on 7 acres (which seemed like millions) and surrounded by land, land and more land.  We could not see a single house from ours except for the distant farm house at the horse farm that bordered our land.  Our land was full of treasures to be discovered and my sister and I spent hours exploring. 

The rock wall that seperated our yard from the horses was centuries old and a place of fun and imagination.  The pond in the backyard became the hub of much of our imaginary play.  We played with our dolls in the stream, cooked “meals” of berries and wild cucumbers in the woods.  We played cowboys and indians with bows we made from sticks and arrows left behind by hunters.  We caught salamanders, snakes, frogs and tadpoles.  We “fished” in a fishless pond but had fun none the less, even building a raft out of found materials.  We got to see deer and fox and even giant loggerhead turtles laying eggs in the front yard. We once had pet Swans for about a day but they weren’t too happy in our pond and we had to return them to the original owners.

Kids in Vermont had a different appreciation for outdoor play.  Video games had yet to reach mainstream popularity and cable TV was still a dream for most pf the rural people around us.  We actually played outside! Most every memory I have of being a kid takes place outdoors.

I dont remember doing a lot of gardening but I know that we had a small garden at least one year.  We even made a scarecrow and called her Matilda.  The thing about Vermont was that most people gardened so we were constantly receving bags full of fresh produce.

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks back we did make maple syrup.  This was one of the highlights of my childhood and I have such fond memories of it.  If you are interested in learning more about our sugaring adventures you can read my earlier post.

One of my “heros” has always been Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Every time I watched Little House on the Prairie or read one of Laura’s books I felt a connection to her.  I love cooking and making things and loved to read about all of her adventures.  I loved it when the power went out because we would play “olden days” and pretend we were the Ingalls sisters.

Early on I really began to enjoy crafting and creating.  I was always trying something new wether it was crochet or sewing or just making things out of stuff I found around the house.  I remember crocheting little fish with my friend Shannon.  I remember when my mom gave us scraps of fabric and we hand sewed pillows and filled them with the soft fibers of the milkweed pods we found outside.  We slept on the pillows that night only to wake up with puffy, red eyes and sneezing fits!  One Christmas I even prepared a “how-to” video for my family with directions on how to make things from christmas ornaments to stationary out of old magazine pages.

My friend Shannon was also a huge influence on my love of the Farmgirl life.  Shannon lived on a beautiful farm with all kids of animals.  We spent hours wandering the barns, chasing cats, playing in the hay, and exploring the ponds.  We used the old kitchen to cook all kinds of things.  One fond memory is making bread in an old coffee can.  We spent many nights sleeping on the sun porch and dreaming of our futures living on big farms.

As we got older, my sister started to dream about city life.  While I was intrigued by the city I knew deep down I would always live in the country.  We both moved away from Vermont and went to college where we both met our husbands.  Amanda’s marriage took her to Boston, Rockton/Rockford, Illinois, Nashville and then back to Illinois.  Although she now lives in a suburb she has always been much closer to the city life!  My marriage took me to a rural town (population 224) in Arkansas!  We live on 200 acres of land! 

I love rural life! I love that we can have 3 horses, 4 dogs, countless barn cats, and 1 indoor/outdoor cat.  We have plans to get 2 beef cattle and a milk goat in the next year.  We are getting 3 or 4 chickens sometime in the next month or so.  We have room to grow fruit trees, berries, veggies and herbs.  We can hunt deer and turkey right in our back yard.  If we were the squirrel eating type (which we are not!) we could hunt those too.

I guess it truely doesn’t matter where you live, you can be a farmgirl anywhere, but for me I truly enjoy the rural lifestyle.  I enjoy being able to “live off the land”.  Life seems a little simpler and a little less hectic.  We can hang out underwear on the clothes line and no one will see it.  We can let the dogs run free and they won’t bother anyone.  Our rooster can crow at 2 am and the only people he will wake is us.  Farmlife is good!

If you ish to connect with other farmgirls check out the forums at Mary Janes Farm!

 

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