Catching up….

At times it seems life goes by so quickly. There are days when everything is in place and running smoothly. Then there are days, weeks even, that seem to a run together in a delightful randomness. We have had many exciting things happening in our family of late. Our eldest daughter and her husband are expecting their first child. Our third eldest got engaged and is getting married….NOV 2nd! Yikes! Two showers and a wedding to plan before the end of October! My husband started a new job last week. I had two retinal tears in my “good” eye. We attended two weddings, no funerals :). Two of my middles started up their summer jobs, as well as picking up some extra work on the side. And, I’ve just been enjoying having my two grandbebes in my back yard! (Oh yeah, and my son and daughter in law 🙂 )

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Footprints

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What happens when the two year old gets into her sisters tea tree oil!

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Nature Therapy…

Since I had eye surgery on the 27th of March, I’ve been on “limited” duty.  I find when I sit around too much life seems a little bleak 🙂

On Saturday my husband said “come on… you need a walk”.  Really?  I just wanted to sleep!  🙂  He lovingly heckled me to get up and get going….. he was right (that seems to be a pattern 🙂 )  He asked me where I would like to walk, as he was headed toward our driveway.  I sorta swung my head in the opposite direction, toward our woods.

We are blessed to live on about 14+ acres, which can be rare here in the North East.  A nice chunk of our land is wooded, and there is a stream on one side and a river that wraps around the back part.  There is also an old trestle trail on one side that ends at the river where a bridge used to span across the river so the train could go across on it’s way to RI.

Anyway, I think Nature Therapy is just what the Dr. ordered.  At the end of our stroll I felt much calmer… relaxed even.  The woods are never “silent”, yet the quietness of them are soothing to the soul.  You can hear the pine needles as they filter the breeze.

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You can hear the birds as they bask in the sunlight shining through the canopy.

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The water, as it rushes over rocks and winter debris, creates, not an unbearable ruckus, but a quietness that reaches beyond the clattering of daily noises.  A sound that, after a few moments, is almost imperceptible as you lose yourself in the beauty of the crystalline waters.

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Yes, Nature Therapy…. It’s good for what ails ya!

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Yodel…odel…ye..he..hoooo…

Do you like to Yodel?  I do not know how… but I do LOVE my Jotul!

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Let me explain….

When we moved into our house about 11 years ago we had no idea, at all, how much oil we would burn… or how little insulation was in our house… ie: NONE

We ran out of oil in 3 weeks as soon as cold weather hit.  I called the oil company and said “I think there’s a problem with the gauge..”  I think they thought I was kidding them or something… they promptly replied ” Oh, no ma’am, there isn’t a problem with the gauge, we believe you are out of oil”  Incredulously I replied “No, that couldn’t be, why we just filled the tank!  Clearly we shouldn’t be out of oil”.  The woman on the other end of the phone was probably rolling her eyes at me gesturing to her co-workers that they should come hear the crazy woman on the phone.  Again, she assured me that we, indeed, were out of oil.  OH MY.  Let me say, that was a verrrrrry long winter for us!

My husband, in his infinite wisdom, said “we NEEEED a woodstove”.  Of course I agreed, I mean come on now, a tank of oil in 3 weeks!  No brainer here.  Then, after weeks of research and pondering, my dear husband comes to me and says “we are going to put the woodstove on the main floor of the house”…. ummm what??  Let’s review… smallll house, laaarrrgggeeee family, we need ALL the space we can get!  I argued, I lamented, I spent sleepless nights worrying about the space I would be losing.  He tried to passify me by reminding me how we will burn less wood heating the main part of the house then we would heating the basement AND the main part of the house.  Sure, Sure… be all practical!

Well, of course, he was right.  It IS practical, it DOES heat the whole house for an entire winter with maybe 5 cords of wood (6 if it’s super cold and windy).  It has paid for itself 10x over in the years we have owned it as we are able to get our wood off our land, but even if we had to buy the wood it would still be cheaper than oil.  Of course I should love my stove, and I do.  But I didn’t, at first.

I saw that chimney going in, right in the middle of MY living space.  Whaaaat are you doing???  My husband cheerfully replies “best place for the chimney is closest to the peak of the house, best for draft etc”  Uggghhhh, he’s right again!  But inside I was fighting that chimney!  It was a black tube running straight up from the stove that was right in the MIDDLE of my house!!  I knew I had to get over myself… it was a battle!

Guess what?  Over time I have grown in love… love for my Jotul…. love for the warmth it provides, for the free hot water always on hand in the winter months.  For the free clothes drying capabilities in the winter, as well as boot and glove warming.  My husband will even drape his work coat in front of it to get the coat all warm and toasty before heading out to do chores.  I love that if we lose power during a blizzard we are warm, I can cook and heat water.  I love that my kids crowd around the stove on cold winter mornings to warm up.  I love my husband for having the wisdom to put the stove where it is and the fortitude to ignore me!

I think that the silent black monolith sitting in the middle of my house has become a central figure.  Sorta like the old granny that is always in her chair, always present to give a hug or cuddle, always there to provide a warm soothing meal.

You have to have a relationship with your wood stove, you have to nurture it, care for it, at times coddle it.  You have to feed it… even coax it.  In return it soothes tired aching bones and muscles from working out in the winter wind.  It brings the family together as they sit near it’s radiant heat.  It warms frozen feet that have been out in the snow all day.  It provides a glowing nightlight for the bleary eyed child getting up in the middle of the night.  It nurtures you back… exactly what happens when you have a loving relationship.

Yes, I have grown to love this fixture in our home, it’s an old friend to me now.

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Birthday

My birthday, this year, happened to fall right in the middle of Holy Week, and, as chance would have it, on the day of my eye surgery.  The nurses at the hospital gave me a card and balloon

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They were so thoughtful to patch the left eye!
My 6 year old made me some “face cloths”‘ and gave me a piece of chalk so I can “mark the post to see how tall we are”

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My 12 year old son made me a lovely bird house and painted it my favorite color….barn red.

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I love how it stands out !
My eldest got me the “best mom’s ring ever”!  Hand crafted from this lovely online merchant. 

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It actually fits ALL 12 of my kids names on it!
Hubby and daughter pitched in to get me a droid tablet.  Much easier to read now!
A lovely birthday indeed 🙂  surrounded by my family…..I can’t ask for anything more.

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Craziness…

Winding down what has been quite a whirlwind few weeks here.  Our eldest son and his young family moved home so they were here for a few weeks getting our cottage ready to move into.
During that craziness there was our regular schedule / farm chores / obligations, getting ready for Easter….and surgery prep for me.
A short history…..
I detached the retina in my left eye 2 years ago.  I was pregnant at the time so they tried to “hold” it in place by lasering….twice.  Fast forward 2 weeks they delivered early…..2 days postpartum they did the surgery to fix the retina, I won’t go into the gory details on that!  Suffice it to say it was NOT something I would EVER want to have to do again 😉
Recovery involved 5 days of laying on my right side….with a nursing newborn.
Fast forward 2 years….cataracts in both eyes…also developed macular pucker, or epiretinal membrane in the bad eye.  All of which was hindering vision. 
Cataract surgery in January, then revisit the macular pucker issue. 
So, that is the surgery that I was preparing for last week amidst all the craziness.  I had a vitrectomy macular peel on Wednesday.  Recovery from that involved 2 days of laying completely facedown…..now I look like a pirate, I can’t drive for 2 weeks and no bending/lifting for 6 weeks.  Phew.
Today, Easter, our son and his family finished moving into the cottage, we fit in Easter dinner in-between unloading the U-Haul, visited with family…..now we are shutting down.  It may take us a few weeks to recover from this batch of craziness.
Kudos to all my children…..they All stepped up to the plate!

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Making do…

One of our goals in life is to live simply….more simply. 
I love to see the kids ingenuity re-purposing scraps they find around the farm.
One of our sons (aged 9 at the time) created this “airplane swing” for his younger siblings, out of scrap wood.

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(You can see where one of our piglets dug up the yard!  Little “excavators” they are!)

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Crochet….

I’ve been teaching myself Afghan (Tunzanian) stitch.  Who knew!  So easy and such a neat stitch when done up.

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Now to get my hook back from my daughter who stole “borrowed” it!

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Essentials…

I was going to write a post about our dinner last night.  Then while preparing dinner I started thinking about what I use most in the kitchen.  What I utilize the most, my favorite “go to” things that I would not want to live without.  I tend to keep things pretty simple so I have just a few basics.

First and foremost is definitely my cast iron.  I love these bad-boys!  I have several, some new some old.  My biggest pan, the one I use just about everyday is the “newest” in the sense that it was purchased new about 10 years ago.  I make everything from scrambled eggs to awesome home fries (on top of the stove or in the oven) 2013-03-11_16-58-38_243The “oldest” belonged to my father in law’s mom, I have another one that size that was bought new 19 years ago.  I have picked some up for free, I found a small one for $2.99 at my favorite thrift store.  I also have a griddle that is utilized at least 4 times a week.  We bought that new about 15 years ago.

These are all my “go to” pans that I use daily, even several times a day.  I can’t say enough about cast iron, especially the older stuff.  I find the older cast iron holds it’s non stick qualities easier and cleans easier.  Treat it well and it will treat you well for the rest of your life and your children’s lives and so on.  You can plop one of these babies on a wood stove or outdoor grill.  Hang over an open fire, or use as an oven with hot coals.  I mostly use mine on my gas cooktop (NOT recommended for smooth glass tops).

Next would be my awesome Mandolin 2013-03-11_16-43-49_672( a Christmas gift from one of my daughters).  This thing is indispensable when it comes to slicing veggies.  We have a huge family, we are cooking for 12 people every day, more when all my children are home.  When we do potatoes…. that’s a lot of “taters precious“.  With this Mandolin you can cut through 8 lbs of potatoes in the blink of an eye.  Slice ’em, dice ’em, cut them into fries… you name it!  It cleans easily, stores easily and is extremely easy to use with very little “set up”.

Thirdly I LOVE my jars.  All kinds of jars… quart, pint, half gallon.  Love them all!  I store all kinds of stuff in them; leftovers, candy, oatmeal, rice, spices…even bacon grease (wide mouth is best for that )2013-03-11_16-50-54_560

Fourthly I would have to say… though not a “tool”, it is definitely an essential in my kitchen!  BUTTER!  Put some butter in a hot cast iron pan and have at it!

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All that being said…

What started as a “cooking” post on the oven roasted home fries I was making last night (see above pic) and some of our home raised chicken I was roasting in the oven, turned into an infomercial!

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Ode to Hamster

For about a year my, just turned, 14 year old has been begging for a hamster.  I’ve put her off, stalled, re-directed and downright emphatically said… NO!  We have many animals here on our farm, pick one!  It can be yours, your own, your precious.  As a mom, it is my duty to convey how this is a commitment, something to take seriously, it will be an infringement…. on ME (after all, it IS all about MOM).

Cue, birthday day out with dad….

Dad texting mom, “She wants to go to Petco”.

Mom texting Dad back,” NO… stay the course… stay strong”

Long texting story short, they came home with a hamster.  Admittedly a quite cute hamster.  A hamster that runs a mile a minute on it’s wheel hoping to someday get to where it’s going.  A hamster that lets you hold it and doesn’t bite…. you get the picture.  The darn thing is adorable and, let me tell you, it is hardy!

Last night the “outdoor” cat, that, someone accidentally let in, knocked the cage off the table and proceeded to sit on the floor gazing longingly at the little morsel hoping for a midnight snack….. twice!

I was more traumatized than the silly hamster!  Once up-righted, Zoe (so named by my daughter) started running like mad on her wheel, seemingly completely unscathed.  My husband said “She’s working off her stress”.  Her stress??  I just lost 10 years off MY life!  I saw, in my minds eye, this adorable little fur ball entering the yawning chasm of my buff tabby’s mouth!  I envisioned having to tell my daughter in the morning that her beloved pet, that she pined for Forever, would no longer be a part of our lives!  Now that’s stress people!….  I need a wheel.

So, now, I find myself protecting this little “varmint”even *gulp* Liking it!  Sheesh, I mean come on… how many hamsters will let a two year old (that didn’t mean to roll them off the table) hold them?

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