Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #188

apronHello and welcome! We took a couple of weeks off, but we are back blog hopping and we are hoping you can join in!

I know many of us are still dealing with the white stuff and cold, but March 1 is this weekend and that means before long I will be starting seedlings inside. I can’t wait to see my green babies again!


A couple weeks ago on the hop Tammy from Taylor Made Homestead shared her garden plan with us.

I loved it and her blog for many reasons and one being that she uses excel like I do on my garden planning. So her blog hit the gardener AND the geek in me! She has great tips about rotations and sunlight too. If you missed it, check it out!

I am very ready for a melt down here. Our sump pump froze last Saturday so I think it is ready for some warm temperatures also!

I do love the four seasons however and I am so grateful to have snow on the ground and sunshine on my brain!

What are you up to? How do you get ready for spring while still fighting the cold?

While you are hopping with us, be sure to hop over to say hi to my co-hostess Deb at Dandelion House.  She has some great information on a little road trip that looks like fun for those of you our east!

Let’s get hopping!


Frozen Sump Pump

Some of you may remember a blog I did on our sump pump– The Sound of Music I called it. I shared how I had come to depend on the reassuring sound of the motor humming followed by the “knock, knock, knock” that indicated water was being pumped out.

On Saturday afternoon hubby and I noticed the humming sound of the motor but the “knock, knock, knock” was missing. We looked at each other in horror and then shot down the basement to take a look.(It is a lovely thing isn’t it?)


We disconnected the electricity and then the white pipe that is the exit pipe. We plugged her back up and she was working just fine- evidenced by us getting sprayed with water.

After determining the pump was fine we knew there had to be something else. We opened the area that allows access to the crawl space under the garage to see if the pipe had busted. All was well there. We knew the pipe had to have frozen once it exits the house. We bundled up and headed outside. Digging began.


We have been wanting to redo the exit for our sump pump since we moved in. It is not buried properly (deep enough) which helped on our digging activities, but probably was the culprit in our pipe freezing. We dug the pipe up and then grabbed our plumbing snake to see what the issue was. About 3 – 4 feet into the pipe we hit something solid- it had to be ice!

We started heating up water to pour it on and down the pipe. In a bit Mike ran downstairs to see what joiner we had in case we needed to cut open the pipe. I continued to pour in water and low and behold an icicle floated to the edge of the pipe!  That was the best sight of the afternoon! I grabbed the snake and started breaking up the ice. The ice burst out, broke the pipe at the seam and water blew out everywhere! That was fantastic fun!


Lucky for us we had one joiner and a 10 foot piece of pipe so we could piece things back together. A little primer, glue and finessing and it was all hooked back together with no ice!






We still need to bury this thing, but for now it is back to humming AND knocking!


Stay warm!



Snowed In Brunch

Nothing like a snowy day to keep you in jammies and eating brunch with your honey! Hubby baked bread last night…

whole wheat bread

and this morning we turned some of it into French Toast.


It is cold, snowy and beautiful here.


Ash Wednesday services are cancelled along with schools; temps predicted to dip to -30 below windchill later today and tonight. Some say turn lemons into lemonade. We turn bread into brunch!


What are you doing to keep warm and cozy during the Arctic blast?

Warm thoughts!


Weekend Getaway

VdayHubby surprised me with a Valentine weekend getaway. He definitely is good at making and carrying through on a plan and this was no exception. I did not know where we were headed until shortly before we left. I love surprises especially when they include a little road trip. I was so excited!


He saw an article in Midwest Living magazine on old theaters that had been restored. Franklin, Indiana and the Historic Artcraft Theatre jumped out to him as it is just a couple of hours up the road. AND the Valentine showing was “My Fair Lady” which is a favorite of ours. Here is an old picture of the theatre from their website. Check out the schedule of all the fantastic movies for 2015 – 2016

The theatre popcorn is locally grown Indiana popcorn that is popped at the theatre. It is $2 and includes free refills! Water was $1 and admission was $5. I guess I am a cheap date! :-) The theatre was large and an MC introduced the show. Improv players did a 30 second skit to synopsize “My Fair Lady”, prizes were given out and a cartoon played prior to the main show. It was FUN!

Hubby took the other suggestions in the article and made a two night reservation at The Flying Frog Bed and Breakfast where we were treated to a lovely room, 3 course breakfasts and terrific hosts.




We were so enthralled with the food and enjoyment of the other guests at breakfast we have no photos to show as we simply forgot to take some. You will just have to trust me that the Eggs Benedict, stuffed french toast, poached pears, fritata, dipped strawberries and more were all delish!

The Willard served up an awesome Margherita pizza, fried cheese cubes and mircrobrew just like the article said they would. It was a great first evening dinner!


Our waiter recommended a place for dinner on Valentines Day and the next evening we were headed to Taxman Brewing Company.



Taxman did not disappoint for dinner on Valentine’s Day. We headed there before the show and we loved the set up. Long tables on two floors that encourage not only good eating and drinking but socializing as well. The couple we shared a table with were so fun to share our dinner time with. We were fortunate to hit them early (5pm) as we had a short wait but by the time we left the wait was over an hour. This place really is a popular joint and for good reason! The mussels, frites, hamburger and kale salad was to die for. They have excellent chefs there and also talented brewmasters as the beer was really good!


So much was within walking distance and although it was cold it was a cozy, relaxing weekend full of small town fun. And what would Valentine’s Day be without a good bottle of wine and chocolates. I was also treated to some awesome slippers that I wore most of the weekend while at our B&B!


Hope you had a cuddly Valentine’s weekend where ever you were. If you live in Indiana or are passing through don’t pass Franklin Indiana up!

Keep warm!


Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #187


Howdy farmgirls and welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! Deb has been cold and buried in the white stuff. I have been cold without snow and looking at 50 tomorrow. Maybe a little outdoor activity will occur. I have been in the basement today digging through boxes and trying to slim down the storage.

I have been having so much fun planning our garden. I have gotten a bit more organized with a plan on a spreadsheet, done a seed inventory and ordered some seeds to fill in the gaps. I LOVE seed catalogs. How about you? Nothing takes the chill off like looking at summer squash, tomatoes and peppers!


Do you have a favorite activity to do in these cold months? Quilting, crocheting, dreaming of gardening (like me)… share what you have been up to this week.

Deb and I are looking forward to your posts. Have a great weekend and week!

Let’s Hop!


Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #186

apronHowdy farmgirls and happy Friday! It is sunshiny here but a little deceiving as it is COLD.  But we have nothing on Deb over at Dandelion House and you other eastern farmgals that got blasted with the snow storm earlier this week! We are expecting snowfall this weekend and to be honest I am crossing my fingers for some. I am missing the white stuff!

I look forward to reading your entries each week. Last week I read with a bit of shock of Urban Overall’s finds in dried beans over the years. I do sort and rinse but I confess to laziness on this one as I have never spotted anything out of place so I thought these warnings to be a bit exaggerated. She has convinced me to be more diligent!

moldy beans with assorted shriveled beans and pebbles

I am busy with my garden plan and looking at seed catalogs. I added some new catalogs to the mix this year and cannot wait to get through them all. What are you up to?

Join on in and brag a bit on yourself and what you are doing. We love to read them! Let’s get hoppin’!

Hop over to Deb’s for the updates on the snow storm and the damage she encountered. AND also the cute video of her chickens!

Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart~ MaryJaneButters

This is a Blog Hop!

Green Pasta

We all have a favorite foods- those that we consider comfort foods. There is no doubt mine is pasta. When I work late or have an otherwise super busy day my go to meal is veggies and pasta. Last night was one of those nights.pasta and veggies

There is no “real” recipe here. For a day that is busy, something I can do without thinking and just be a little creative with is the ticket!

This pasta started with several cloves of garlic in olive oil, then I layered some flavor on top of that with a sliced leek and some green peppers that I had frozen from our garden. Next came chopped up kale and some extra mushrooms I had hanging out in the fridge from a dish earlier this week. Seeking out more green I grabbed a couple handfuls of spinach. When the pasta was done, it was drained and dumped in the skillet.  Seasoned with a bit of Italian Seasoning and a bunch of freshly ground black pepper was all that was needed. Feta cheese finished it off.

Of course no pasta dish is complete without a glass of red wine. After dinner some tea and the evening was complete.

What is your go to? You know, the dish you just throw together when your planned one just isn’t going to happen.

I hope I inspired you to just open the fridge and throw something together! Adding pasta is a big plus!

Happy Unleashing from your fridge!


Baked Eggs Southwestern Style


We love southwestern food! Anytime we can add some jalapenos, black beans and tomatoes to a recipe we are happy campers!

This weekend for brunch we made baked eggs and they were fantastic.

Note: I love using dried beans rather than canned beans so I had cooked those in the crockpot the day before to have them ready. When I prep beans this way, I do not add any seasonings since they will be in a recipe. I simply do 1 C dried beans to 3 C water and let them go for several hours in the crockpot. You can also use 1 can of black beans, rinsed for this recipe.

Start with a diced onion and a couple jalapenos. Add some diced garlic (some is a relative term; I used 6, but others may just use a couple).  Add 1 tsp of paprika (I used 1/2 smoked and 1/2 sweet) and 1/2 tsp of cumin. Let all the veggies sweat and the seasonings get fragrant–about 15 minutes.


peppers and onions

Oh did it smell good. Next add your black beans (16 oz) and tomatoes. For the tomatoes you need about 28 oz.

black beans and tomatoes

I used tomatoes that I had frozen. I grabbed a bag of  frozen crockpot sauce (recipe from Food Renegade)I made ALOT of this last summer and froze 2 cup portions into ziplocks.  I grab it all the time for recipes or to throw on pasta. Since it is seasoned up nicely these tomatoes worked great in this recipe.  I also quartered and froze roma tomatoes last summer and grabbed several of these. Frozen tomatoes are not good for salads, but they work great in recipes or for roasting. If you have tomatoes you preserved that are favorites, use those; otherwise grab 28 oz can and that will work nicely too.

Stir it up and add a little honey (about Tbl).


I added a bit of tomato paste to thicken it up and then let it simmer for 20 minutes or so.

One at a time, break eggs into a cup and pour them into the sauce.


Add a lid and check them after about 6 minutes. Mine cooked for 8 and the yolks were still runny.

Serve in a bowl with pitas or tortilla shells- you could use corn or flour, hard or soft– whatever you like best.

Add some chopped green onion and some feta (queso fresco would be great, but I did not have any). Chop some cilantro if you have it around and toss it on.


Baked Eggs

Do you like spicy food?  What are some of your favorites?

Happy Unleashing those taste buds!






Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #185

apronHowdy and welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! I look forward to this every week! How about you?

Many of you have snow and are making the best of it! Like Lori at LL Farm who is making Snow Ice Cream and shared how last week on the hop!

Reading and imagining the yumminess has me wishing for snow!

So let’s get hopping! Brag a bit on yourself and your doings over at your home. It is such a fun way to share!

Be sure to stop by Deb’s at Dandelion House and say hi! We are planning some nifty giveaways for 2015!! So keep checking in.

Have a great week and thanks for joining us today!

Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart – MaryJaneButters

Sometimes There are Disappointments

IMG_20141011_190339283_HDRI have said a number of times that our life here at Big Sky Acres is a living experiment. Everything we try is new and we have no experience to draw upon when it comes to bees or this land we are growing veggies in. We learn continually and sometimes those learnings coming with high fives and laughter. Sometimes they come with sorrow.

After a wonderful weekend away at the wood show and Lake Monroe we decided to take a walk around our property and check out the low tunnels, cold frames and bees. It was a beautiful day- 50 degrees and sunny.  We knew however that this 50 degree day had come after a string of frigid temperatures. We had wondered if things had survived and with hopeful hearts we wandered on back.

As we approached the one end of one of the tunnels was collapsed; not always a bad sign as sometimes the wind that runs across here will do that, but it felt like a red flag. As we peeked in we saw that all of our beautiful green babies had frozen and died. The cabbages and brocolini that looked so beautiful a month ago just could not handle the below 0 temps.

I ask myself, should I have added plastic or another layer of frost cloth? Probably one of those should have been done. More reading on year around gardening will give me the answer I suppose.  Since we are doing things before we read all the books sometimes the chapter you need is the next one and you make a mistake or miss something. You try again with some tweaks and hope for different results.

I also think that I planted too late. I was really close to the Persephone (less than 10 hours of light) when I planted. I have had a nagging feeling that would have an effect, but still wanted to try. That is how it is when you are a living experiment! Reading and tweaking is a constant here so I am in hopes that our wonderful low tunnels will supply us with produce in the spring when we try it again. So we say farewell to these for a few weeks…


On a positive note, the cold frames seem to be doing well.  The arugula and lettuce are growing. They have a ways to go before harvesting and eating, but they are hanging in there. I am in hopes that the garlic that is under the straw is also preparing for it’s growth spurt in several weeks.


We headed to the bees.  We have been concerned about our one hive, Green but we felt that Trudeau was well.  (yes we name our hives after airports).

On this 50 degree day we did not see any bees making their cleansing flights and only saw one bee in the sugar candy. We heard no buzzing in either hive. We feel they are lost too. We will get more bees and do it all again, but losing both hives is sad. We can’t really point a finger at anything here. When we last saw them there was buzzing and activity in both. We made sugar candy and put that and a pollen patty in there. They were used hives… could something have been lurking there? I have since read to NOT purchase used hives, so when we get our bees in the spring, I think we will trash these and get new hives. “Once burned, shame on you, twice burned shame on me.” I just feel to do the same exact thing again is not the right way to go. So sadly we say goodbye to our little bees and feel sorrow that they did not make it this winter.



Life if full of experiences, isnt’ it? Some happy and some sad. I am blessed because the happy far outweigh the sad. I can be sad about these losses while at the same time look forward to the successes that will occur. Regardless of success or failure they are just that… learnings.

What about you? What are some tough lessons you have learned on your homestead? Do you have any tips for me, our bees or tunnels?

Happy Unleashing in your successes and failures!