Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Relaxing Yet Productive Weekend

We are driving through Madison right now after our usual stop in Middleton at the Mobil. Now that it is dark  on the drive home, it’s harder to sew or knit like I do when it is light. I still need something to keep me occupied while Steve is driving the busy roads home, so I thought blogging might work. Mia (our cat) has decided to sit on the laptop and but is now settled in my lap. Everyone seems to be heading home from the holiday weekend tonight. I hope you all had a great weekend with family & friends or just relaxing at home.

We are still recovering from our colds but feel much better than last week. I really didn’t expect to get much done but we did accomplish a few things. Steve hung drywall on the low wall in the kitchen where the sink & cook top will be. I hope to post a drawing of those cabinets, etc. soon.

Kitchen wall. The 2 pex lines in floor is the location of the sink.
Cooktop will be in the area behind the bucket.

While he worked on that, I was in the attic & the basement looking for misc. items to take back home in preparation for Christmas. Things like cookie cutters, the kid’s stockings, and felted wool to make presents. I seriously have a wool obsession.  I shop at Goodwill and garage sales for wool sweaters. At first I was making dryer balls (which I still do) and water bottle covers, but now I’m adding other items. So far a trivet and reading glasses  holder.  I can’t tell you the other items yet or it will ruin the surprise for the kids.

When Steve was finished with the drywall, he put up a temporary door at the base of the attic stairs.  We will still keep the Styrofoam at the top of the stairs. That should keep the space even warmer. I worked on putting up the last bit of blue jean insulation on the workshop wall that backs up to the new living area.
The last of the insulating on the main floor.

It got down to fourteen degrees Friday night but today was in the forties. That was very comfortable for bringing in more firewood for our next visit which I worked on while Steve went on to the next project, putting another coat of mud on the bathroom drywall. One more coat & we should be painting.
Second coat of mud.

The Subaru looks right at home at the farm :-)
At the shop, we’ve been working on  a medicine chest & mirror frame made of the same hickory wood as the vanity. We will begin working on the cabinets & counter top for the low wall in the kitchen soon. Then we can have a working sink upstairs for washing dishes. Yippee!!! Washing dishes in the basement in the utility sink works but it is hard on the back. Just not the right height.
So this was the maiden voyage for the Subaru. So far so good. I put a few bumper stickers in the windows today. One is for the local radio station WDRT and the other says “Driftless. Slower is better” . Steve’s brother Joe called the Subaru our “hippiemobile”.  We just laughed. I guess it’s better than a “conservativemobile“.  I think a lot of people think of us as old hippies. We aren’t “mainstream” that’s for sure. But who wants to be like everyone else?
We are home now, so I am copying, pasting  & adding pictures to this post. Time for bed now & dreams of the new kitchen...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Steve & I are both feeling better now. Not completely, but well enough to be able to taste the food tomorrow :-). We will be going to Steve's brother's house not far from here. Then Friday morning we will drive (in the "new to us" Subaru) up to the farm. Looking forward to getting up there, seeing the neighbors, buying my cookies making supplies at the co-op and relaxing in front of the fire. Speaking of cookie making....I am driving to Kristin's in a couple weeks to spent a few days making cookies. Not only will I have help baking cookies, I get to play with Jaelyn. Here is a video from our visit a couple weeks ago. You'll have to excuse my choice of music. I was looking for a good beat & forgot about the lyrics. Good thing she is too young to pick up on that:-)
She loves to dance! A few of her toys play music & whenever they start playing, she starts rocking back & forth. So cute!
Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving with family & friends.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Still Hanging in There

It's been a long week. Today is the first day I've felt like myself. Steve now has a sinus headache, so we figure he's behind me by a couple days. It wasn't too hard of a decision to stay home from the farm this weekend. As much as we love to be there, driving four hours each way didn't seem like a good idea with sore throats, chills,  runny noses & sinus headaches. It has been so long since we've been sick that we forgot what it was like to get the flu. I slept as much as I could all week & Steve has been doing that this weekend. He did convince me to wake up for a while & go to Restore, a  40,000 sq. ft. building materials reuse center benefiting Habitat for Humanity on Saturday. We went looking for three doors for the inside of the barn. Didn't get lucky this time. On the way back home, we stopped at Fruitful Yield (a health food store) and ran into two women that I used to have classes with. One is the manager of the store & the other is a doctor now. It was really good to see them. I did have this feeling of sadness afterword, though. All the plans of graduating & opening up a practice up at the farm came back as I looked over the pamphlet about her practice. It is still really hard to face the fact that my dreams of being a naturopathic doctor will not be realized. If any good can come out of having PTSD, it's that my mind lets things go fairly quickly. ( I am being sarcastic.) When I think about losing such an important part of my life, I start to cry, but then other things pop into my brain. This was one of the main reasons I started to write this blog. Keeping focused is a good brain exercise for me.
Today I woke up without a sinus headache, so I felt 95% better than before. After breakfast, I went to the grocery store while Steve went down for his morning nap :-). Later this afternoon, we went to the shop & Steve finished up spraying finish on a job for tomorrow while I worked on the snowman bench pieces. That's about it. So thankful for We don't have TV, so watching Hulu was our entertainment while laying around.
I almost forgot...Steve did his deposition on Thursday. It lasted a couple hours. I stayed home & slept. No hard, probing questions. Nothing he didn't expect. He figures they are saving that for my deposition since I have more injuries.
Tonight is the blue moon. It's pretty mild temp-wise (53 degrees now)  but it will be dropping tomorrow night to 23. Thanksgiving might reach 32 degrees during the day.
 Hope everyone had a much more fun weekend than we did. What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Little Under the Weather

It is a cloudy, foggy fall day here. The first day it has really felt like fall to me this year.  The last few days I've had a sore throat which is now easing but congestion is making it's way up to my head. Hope this is over soon. I can't even remember the last time I was sick. It's had to have been at least 5 years ago or more. We haven't been exercising at all lately, and I think that has a lot to do with it. Steve is feeling sick now, too. I'll try to catch up with what we've been up to before the colds took hold.
Last Thursday, my friend Pat & I took the day & went resale store shopping. It was so much fun! We went to six places, five of which we had never been before. We also stopped at Little Traveler in Geneva so Pat could pick up some dishes & I found a doll for Jaelyn.  The first stop of the resale shops was Goodwill. I go there once every couple weeks to look for wool sweaters for felting but I couldn't believe what I found. It was a Fiestaware pitcher in yellow for $1.99 minus a 15% discount for Veteran's Day. It's so funny because that morning, I picked up my first Fiestaware from a lady I found selling it on Craigslist. I love the colors & want to mix & match them for our farm dishes. The pieces I got from Craigslist are pretty old. Not sure if I will use them. Maybe just display them.
Large pitcher is from Goodwill. Other pieces are from Craiglist.
At a different shop, I found a tea pot with a wooden lid and handle. It is very heavy duty, so it should hold the heat well.
I always find such nice things at garage sales, Craigslist or Goodwill. My daughter Kristin says how hard it will be for me to move away from this area because I probably won't be able to find all these great buys in Viroqua since it is a smaller town and not as affluent. That's ok. Maybe when I move up there, I'll decide to purge all my "stuff" and live a more simple, uncluttered life :-)
 Back to shopping...we stopped and ate lunch at the Moveable Feast. We've ate there before, but this is the first time I've had their Fairy Cookies. Thanks Pat for turning me on to them :-). If you are ever in Geneva, go there & try these cookies. And have a few Deeply Fudgey Brownies. After all, Oprah loves them. Just writing about those cookies, makes me want to get in my car (by the way, we bought a "new to me" Subaru Outback yesterday) and go get some. Steve should try them after all. It might make him feel better :-)
The "new" car.

We also had an appointment at our lawyer's yesterday to prepare us for the deposition tomorrow. Almost 2 1/2 years since the accident and we are finally making some progress. We were both supposed to be deposed tomorrow, but while we were there, the opposing lawyer called & said there would only be time for one of us. So Steve is going to do his. I get to sit in on it so I can see what it is like. Then I'll be more prepared for mine. Hope mine is soon. I would like to get this over with.

Last weekend we went to my daughter Kristin's to watch Jaelyn while she worked & Tim was out of town. It was so much fun! I will do a separate post about that...

We have started on Christmas presents for the kids. We are making snowman benches for their front porches along with a felted wool stocking for Jaelyn & hopefully some other things. Shane is asking for curtains and bench cushion covers for his Scamp trailer, so I will be getting measurements for that soon.

That white line is a fold mark on the pic. I will post a pic when they are done.

I really need to get busy!
In other news, my niece Trisha had her drawing for the cake plate over at her blog Roundabout. Nancy from A Rural Journal won. Congrats!
Hmmm....thinking about going to Moveable Feast to pick up some carryout & cookies...
Have a great night!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Almost Time for the Drawing

Make sure you check out my niece's blog. She is having a drawing for a beautiful cake plate when she gets 25 followers. She has 23 now...but besides that, she always has great crafty ideas, so check it out anyway :-)
In her latest post, she put some great "upcycled" gift ideas for Christmas. Either click on the link on the right side of my page or here to see them.
Here is a picture of the cake plate
Wouldn't this look great on your holiday table?
 She is doing a craft show in Geneva, IL on Saturday if you are in the area. It is sponsored by The Geneva Mother's Club and is held at the high school.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weekend at the Farm

We had a nice weekend at the farm. Not too busy, but got a few things done. Steve went on a tour of two  area sawmills Saturday morning while I went to the co-op & then sorted through some things in the attic. After lunch we headed up to Eli & Lizzie's to drop off a couple barrels of scrap wood from the shop. Lizzie was in town at the farmer's market so I went in & talked to Lavina (one of the twins). She was working on the quilt they had started the day of the barn frolic. It is a beautiful quilt. Mostly black with a deep purple border. Very intricate stitching. They call it a "Sunday " quilt because they put it on the bed when they have church at their house to make things look nicer. They will be working on a baby quilt next. I also asked about the recipe for the pickled beets they gave us a few weeks ago. It has clove, sugar & vinegar in it. I will ask for the specific recipe again in the summer when I have some beets growing, so I can start making it then.
Eli was working on one of the wagons that was damaged in the tornado. Trying to get the cover back on & the frame straigtened up. The barn is "getting there". Still a lot of work to be done & not enough time to do it. Eli works off the farm doing construction so it leaves little time for his own projects.

For about a year, we have been talking about the kitchen plans. Here is a drawing of what the east wall will probably look like...

The plan for the east wall of the kitchen.

Steve did a little drywalling on Sunday morning. He finished the wall between the foyer & the kitchen & started working on the half wall leading into the kitchen.
This is the half wall looking into the kitchen area. In the background you can see part of the yellow scaffolding. That is the east wall.
 Since I needed to help him with some bigger sheets of drywall, I decided to stay inside and sew  instead of getting all the stakes out of the garden. I did go out & check on the garlic though. There are little sprouts poking out of the ground. So happy to see that. It was so dry after I planted that I was worried about how they would fair without rain. I guess all the straw I put on top after the initial watering worked fine.

It is getting harder & harder to leave the farm. I am so looking forward to spring.
Saturday's sunset over the woods.

Mia enjoying one of the wood stoves.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"So Long" to the Mini

After a year or more of talking about selling the Mini Cooper, we have decided to do it. With winter fast approaching, having a vehicle that sits so low has never been a good idea for Wisconsin country weather. We have a station wagon (and the work van) that we have been using (neither one of them make it up the farm driveway very well) and the Mini has been stored at the farm for a while. We brought it home this weekend to get ready to sell. It has been my vehicle to drive around since we bought it in the fall of 2005 new. Steve has always loved Mini's (esp. the old ones from the 60's), and that is why we bought it. I fell in love with it when we test drove it. The kids were never that crazy about me driving such a "mini" car and I have to say that after the accident, I never have "loved" it the same. Still, we will be sad the day it sells. What to replace it with? Hopefully, a Subaru Outback wagon. They are all wheel drive and sit up a lot higher. Same gas mileage too. We are looking for a used model, probably around 2005 or 2006. (Not the kind that looks like an SUV) We really like the two-toned green the best, like the ones below. We can't be too picky with a used car color though.

Here's the mini the day after we bought it.

So now I will start detailing it and buy a couple signs to throw in the windows. Hopefully it won't take too long. Snow is not far off...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Autumn Fruit Jam

I have to tell you, home is much more boring than the farm. I am sitting here thinking of all the things I could be doing if I were there. Last night we had fun though, at the monthly ski club meeting that we haven't been to for a long time. It was good to catch up with friends, especially Pat from Not Now....I'm Counting! blog. We are planning a whole day of resale shop shopping next week. That will be great! Also a possible knitting & canning weekend at the farm. We also talked to our friend Larry who visited the farm last summer with his brother-in-laws on their motorcycles. We have the same views on politics so we had a great conversation about the elections today.

Seems like every week & a half or so the temperature drops another 10 degrees during the day. Soon the snow will be flying. I really have to get busy making Christmas presents! I have ideas, so at least that is done. We are also trying to coordinate the family Christmas this year. Usually the kids spent Christmas morning with us, but this year will be different. Kristin & Tim would like to spend their first Christmas with Jaelyn at home which would mean a little bit more of a relaxing time for them. That's all good. We now need to plan something a little before Christmas. I have some ideas. We just have to get it all together soon. And I need to get busy on the presents:-). Maybe next year we can have it at the farm :-)

So I promised you more recipes last week. I made Autumn Fruit Jam. Jam is a little misleading though. It is more like a preserve. Bigger chunks of fruit, instead of mashed. It is really good though. I had a half pint that I saved for us & it is gone. (I ate most of it right away :-). It would be so good over some ice cream or frozen yogurt. I found the recipe in one of my favorite canning books Small Batch Preserving by Ellie & Margaret Howard. Here it is...

5 plums, sliced
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and chopped

1 cup water
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. each: ground cinnamon and ginger

1. Combine plums, apples, pears, water, rind & lemon juice in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes or until fruit is softened.
2. Add sugar to fruit & return to boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Boil rapidly, uncovered, until moxture will form a gel, about 3o minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cinnamon & ginger.
3. Ladle into sterilized jars within a half inch from top and process for 5 minutes in a boiling water canner.
Makes four cups.

Not sure if you realize how I do my canning at the farm. Have you ever used a campstove? That is what I use. I did buy a larger version (see below) and set it up in the basement, but used the small one upstairs instead. Soon we will have a normal kitchen at the farm, but hey, if there is a will there's a way. (Boy, I sound old.)

This is the Autumn Fruit Jam cooking on the small campstove.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Winding up the Week at the Farm

Friday night when Steve go to the farm, he was so excited to see the new wood stove arrangement (and of course, me :-). After we ate dinner (a soup I threw together that morning & put in the crockpot), we sat in front of the wood stove and just smiled & hugged. Having the wood stove in place in our new living area is really special for us. One of those warm, comforting feelings. Since we don't have a bedroom wall up yet, we were able to fall asleep looking at the fire. It makes me not want to put up a wall at all. Maybe our plans will change? Who knows.
Saturday was a beautiful day. Sun shining & not much wind. We had a few small things to do and wanted to relax a little. Steve had a stressful, busy week. We put up a temporary door between the new living area & the workshop so the heat wouldn't escape. I had been using a sheet of styrofoam all week that kept falling over. The weekend before, we put up a temporary door to the basement for the same reason. Now we are all closed in and the radiant floor heat in the new living area won't kick on as often. We turn it down as low as the thermostat goes (which is 40 degrees) when we leave. We don't want the plumbing to freeze while we are gone.
We also talked more about what wood to use on the walls. We know we want knotty pine, but are kicking around options on where to get it. Eli mentioned an Amish sawmill in Cashton, so we will check that out. We aren't sure if the wood is dried though. This coming Saturday, there is a tour of a couple sawmills in the area that we are planning on going to. We will have to check out their available lumber too. Then there is always our regular suppliers here in Illinois. I would like to stay local to the farm area though. We just have to narrow down the choices to one & order it.
We decided to use up the rest of the straw & cover the strawberries. They are all tucked in now. I picked some lettuce that had re-seeded itself too. Nice to have fresh lettuce from the garden on October 30th.
We are also trying to decide what kind & size of window will go above the picture window on the west side. We thought we had it figured out, and we do already have a window that we bought on Craigslist a couple years ago. But our minds have changed since then. (Oh boy. More chicken coop windows :-) This
window(s) will be in the new guest area in the attic. Since it is up so high, I would like to be able to clean it from the inside. We also want to be able to see the view while sitting up there. This is what it looks like now...
The only old windows left are in the "soon-to-be guest area" in the attic.

So we are tossing around ideas. Has to be cleanable from the inside, needs to have a clear view of the beautiful rolling hills...hmmm.
I did some cut & pasting of a pic so we could play with options...
Now we have a blank slate...what do you think? What should we use?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Animal Pics

Eli & Lizzie have the two newest calves in the pasture by our driveway now. I love cows. Always have. Here are a couple pics...
This calf is a little over a year.

The one is part Scottish Highlander from neighbor Jim's bull. She was born this spring.
She has an old, wise face.

Here is one of their 15 (at least) roosters. Does anyone know what kind it is?

And last....a giraffe.