The Dining Room These Days

So last year we made the farmhouse safe. That was a challenge in and of itself. This year we’re trying to get it just a little more normal. Functional. It’s FREEZING here right now. We got this little wood burning stove. I’m sure it’s very similar to the one that used to be there ages ago. Here’s a peek into my favorite room right now.







a regular old monday

nothing big and fantastic today. no brilliant musings or extraordinary photos. just my Thankfuls today.


19. Thankful that the cone of shame is gone. It was really a pain. He’s up to his old tricks once more.


20. For white sheets on the line. I can’t pretend that I love everything about hanging my clothes out to dry. You don’t get this dreamy effect when it’s your son’s Avenger tighty whiteys. But there is definitely something wonderful about white sheets waving like a flag. The sound and the breeze is hypnotic.


21. For some seeds in a bucket. It’s not the right time of year for zinnias to grow, but I found a packet and threw them in some dirt and prayed for this little gift. You know, sometimes God just gives you something good to see you happy. I really believe that. When I planted them I knew He’d grow them and here they are. I prayed he would and I knew he would because at the time i really really needed them. he gives such good gifts.

snail mail update

so we’ve got this fun little snail mail project going on. are you doing it? you can read all about it here if you want to catch up. did you get your stuff together? have you mailed it yet?! i mailed mine yesterday. i can’t wait to see it all unfold! next wednesday i’ll let you know about the next person we’re going to bless. i made some pralines, added the recipe card, a tiny picture frame, a prayer box, and the cutest votive i’ve ever seen with a flying lamb with a crown on. i had to get one for me. don’t judge!


so i’d like to kick off my Thankfuls today with

7. i’m thankful for such a generous bunch of internet friends that like to do fun stuff like this.  if one person did it i think it would be an amazing surprise and blessing that will make this sister feel like a million bucks. but more like twenty people did it. her mail-person might despise her, but she’s going to feel really good this week, you guys.


8. my coffee cups all in a row. i pick my color each morning based on my mood. it tickles me when brandon tries to guess my color.


9. my green apron collection. i truly despise housework, but the trusty green aprons make the job less tedious. this is my favorite full length one. it’s for getting down to business. the half ones are cute, but the full apron… that’s for soft scrub and bacon and stuff. my lisa gave it to me for christmas a few years ago. she’s one of those that has that special knack for giving the very most perfect gifts. do you know anyone like that?

oh, and do you want to read the best article on the whole wide internet regarding housework and mothering (in the absolutely most real, honest way)? read this. yes, and amen?! she read my mind. or my journal or something. love it to the core.


10. a cow lick. we have six new calves right now! six! they are the most precious sight. they run. they don’t even care about how they look. they’ll run right in front of a graceful deer and they don’t even care. it’s the cutest thing ever. i usually just watch them but i really just want to go out the fence and just pick one up and snuggle the heck out of it. well, today i lost my mind and i thought maybe i should. so i just went out into the field and sat down low and just stayed there. all the babies [very slowly] came up a few tiny steps at a time. only one was brave enough to come all the way. i reached my hand out. i wanted to touch it so bad, but i wanted it to come to me. and finally it stretched its neck way out and then stuck it’s tongue out and licked my finger and ran away.

good enough

let me kick off today’s Thankfuls with a thought.


4. i’m thankful for this mattress on the floor. i know it’s not a proper bed and it’s only got one pillow. if i were in my normal state of mind i’d be mortified to think of entertaining company in this room. but this is where i’m implementing the ‘at least’ principal. at least it’s a mattress that will let my best friend come stay with me this week. i know the windows are boarded up because the windows are 100 year old casement windows with thin rattly glass. we can’t afford to replace the upstairs windows right now. but at least we had some boards laying around and we could tack them up so none of the kids get hurt playing near them. i know it’s not the most luxurious guest room, but i am immensely thankful for a friend that will brave it to come hang with me for a bit.


5. for the grass growing! when we moved here it was all brown dead grass. we resolved to water one tiny plot and it started to grow. there has been a drought in the area for a long time, but last week it rained and rained and now whole fields are turning green. all the wildflower seeds are getting watered and if we get a little more rain we ought to have some pretty flowers in the spring. i can’t wait to see it!


6. a few moments peace in the hammock yesterday. we bought it months ago and hung it. the kids sit in it all the time, but i don’t usually get time to just walk out into the field and chill in a hammock. sure, the time was short and i was immediately pounced on by a certain toddler, but at least i got a little time in.

Prickly Pear Syrup: Part I

So this is our big project of the week. We have about a TON of prickly pear cactus on the farm. My mother-in-law came this weekend and wanted to pick some for jelly. So we head out and get to business and collect a ton. Making jelly is not really my thing, but I found some other cool uses for it, so we thought we’d see what we could come up with. It’s turned out the be a beautiful little discovery and I want to share with you because maybe you have a bunch of these babies are too. And maybe you’re overlooking some of their awesomeness. By far, this is the most gorgeous juice I’ve ever laid eyes on and I can’t wait to bottle a ton of it. So, let me give you the ins and outs of how to deal with prickly pears… and why you might be so inclined to do it.

syrup1First, head out into your field or find a good road lined with them. You’ll want to be as covered as possible (jeans, gloves, boots, etc.) so as not to get a million pricks. Bring some tongs and just clamp and give them a little twist. Fill up your bucket.


Now that you have your stash, you need to get all those pokies off. Burning them is super fun. Just run them over a flame. We did it on the oven. They turn all shiny and the color deepens to the most glorious eggplant color you’ve ever seen. Also, they just won’t burn. I don’t know why, but they don’t.


Now they are smooth enough to handle. Cut them into quarters.


Look at how pretty they are inside!


So, quarter them and chuck them in a pot. If you’re doing a small batch (a couple of 8 oz. cans), you’re going to want about 8 fruits.


Now cover the fruit with water and steep (almost boiling, but not quite), for about 15 minutes.


Next, strain out your fruit with a cheese cloth. If you don’t have any cheese cloth, feel free to use a somewhat ugly scarf (thanks anyway, babe, it’s a great strainer! Really fancy!).


Now add your sugar. Add until it won’t dissolve anymore. It’s alot of sugar. Almost as much as the juice. Sorry about that, it’s the yummy part! Also, squeeze in the juice of  two lemons. Now you’ve got the syrup. We’re not done with this yet, but we’re off to a good start. From here, you can put it in lemonade, tea, or margaritas. It’s the most amazing hot pink you’ve ever seen naturally occurring. It’s loaded with sugar, but it’s also loaded with antioxidants and fiber, so feel better about that. Let’s chat tomorrow about what to do with your prized pink nectar. Here Abby’s drinking it 1/3 ratio of syrup and the rest water, with a squeeze of lemon. It’s crazy good.


The Kids’ Room

Hey guys,

I’ve finally got a room to show you. It’s not a finished product, but I’m certainly happy with it. I wish I had taken a before picture, but I didn’t cause I’m a bad blogger. So use your imagination for a second. This room was dark dark dark and sad. The kids didn’t want anything to do with it. This weekend we had the air conditioning fixed upstairs, which meant now all the kids could move upstairs to their rooms. Abby made her pick right away and we got to painting. Will and Jude were going to share a room. They picked the ‘pretty room’. The problem with the pretty room is that it’s so hot! Insulation and flow and all that just aren’t quite right in this house yet, so some rooms have great temperatures and some rooms are hot. They were way too hot in that room, but didn’t want to be in the ugly room. Well, yesterday we went out and bought the loveliest mint-grey color and painted it while the kids were sleeping last night. This morning they woke up and all wanted to move in there. They’ve gotten used to sharing a room and now want to be all together! It’s still the boy’s room, but we’ve carved out a little corner for Abby to stay sometimes. I’m just tickled with this room so far.




It’s still got a ways to go with the floor and a decent looking ceiling fan. It’s still a tad sparse. We’re kind of clutter-phobes, but still, it needs a little something… I’m thinking maybe some cute arrows or something like that. What do you think? Anything come to mind?

do you want to meet the cows?

these guys are almost pets now, so maybe you want to say hi. we spend more time with them than humans, actually. we’re getting to know their personalities and everything. the kids adore them and spend several hours a day just talking to them over the fence (that would be abby). and then we spend hours cleaning up their cow patties so we don’t look so rough. 🙂

this is x-afina. i’m not sure how you spell that, but that’s how you say it. abby named her, of course, and gave her a job. she’s a doctor. she does… well, x-rays.



this is josephine. she was my first bovine friend and she holds a special place in my heart for not eating me or beating me up.

IMG_7259and this is number two. she’s rather photogenic, enjoys posing and cattle cubes. she’s got a very cute little baby that abby is taming.


so those are just a few of the ladies i’d like you to meet. we’re so isolated out here, i’m going to have to join a group or something. the other days abby said “mom, your friends are here for bible study!” and it was these gals.