Remodel Survival Through Christmas

DSCN0329For those of your that have lived through a remodel you know that being in the middle of one at the holidays can be a bit challenging.  If you are doing it yourself, another layer of challenge is added.

A few years back, we were remodeling our dining room at our former home. It had been going on for months. As a matter of fact, the wallpaper alone was approaching 6 months in the removal process. It was a grass textured wall paper with other layers underneath. It had me in check mate and the holiday was fast on its way.

I think more than the fact that it wouldn’t be complete was the fact that I was hating this room a lot at this point since the wallpaper and I could not come to an understanding.

So what’s a girl to do?

Go with it. I decided that if I couldn’t beat it then I would join it and make the room the tackiest room ever! So out came every roll of wrapping paper I could find and the decorating began.

DSCN0299

DSCN0326

DSCN0300

As I started covering the wallpaper with wrapping paper my spirits lifted. I felt like I was in control for just a bit.  I added garland and then decided to not remove my ladder and tools, but include them into the decor!

DSCN0324

DSCN0323

A friend of mine popped in as I was doing this and she did question my mental health for a bit, but then understood (I think)…

DSCN0330

We all loved the new look for Christmas, and it made me forget about the remodel that was seemingly taking over my life. The cheery look also brought a lot of laughs from all who visited.

We even took a holiday picture of Jasmine here.

DSCN0331

Have you ever done something a little extreme to regain your sanity in a seemingly impossible situation?

Happy Unleashing your creative side!

FGU

 

 

 

 

Tradition: Holiday Throwdown

We have lots of traditions at the holidays.  One of those is our family cooking throwdown over New Years. We get together with our girls and their significant others each year right after Christmas and through the New Year. We often go somewhere “beachy” although this year we will be at one of their houses due to scheduling challenges for travel. During our trip we select a night and a theme and each of the 4 couples compete for the coveted Throwdown Champ award. The prizes vary between puzzles (we always do a puzzle together on this trip), a game or something that someone has donated as a prize.

There are 8 of us so we crowd into a small kitchen where eight of us cook simultaneously

DSC_0378

DSCN1184

DSC_0345

DSC_0385

DSCN1197

DSC_0618

And some of us have made an escape for a task…DSC_0363

We have competed with pasta, pizza, sliders and appetizers. We have eaten well during these competitions!

DSC_0394

DSC_0652

DSCN1189

DSCN1190

DSCN1192

We have had awesome foods like the year our Italian competitor made a KILLER vodka sauce for their pasta. We have had the not so good beer cheese dip that ended up a weird consistency.

We have had fun more than anything though...

DSC_0372

DSC_0389

DSC_0365

DSC_0419

We cast ballots in the voting booth (the bathroom) and we vote on taste, visual appeal and originality.

So we like to eat so we have incorporated that hobby into a fun, holiday tradition. Let another Holiday Throwdown begin!!!

DSCN1196

What are some of your holiday traditions?

Happy Unleashing during the Holidays!

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #180 and A Little Giveaway from Santa Claus!

apron

Welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

I found the cutest little cowgirl boot ornament in Santa Claus, Indiana last weekend and have been running a little giveaway this week for it.

IMG_20141209_072240065

It’s not too late to enter; as a matter of fact I want all of our farmgirl sisters to have a chance to have this cutie pie on your tree! So read here about Santa Claus Indiana and how to enter to win! 

Deb has spent her morning catching up on all the postings from last week. Be sure to stop by and give her a big ol’ howdy today!

And as Deb said on her post, we are both so grateful for all of the sharing each of you do each week here.  We love seeing all that you do and all the incredible talent you have.

And I quote Deb here, “FARMGIRLS ROCK!

Have a wonderful day and week!

FGU

When Christmas Goes Down the Drain

On Christmas Eve in 2004, several hours before my parents were to arrive, we had a surprise! And not a nice one…

Now before I tell you about our surprise, let me just say that Mike and I had been engaged for just 6 weeks, we had the house decorated to the nines and we had more food than could feed an army. We had planned and prepped to make this the most perfect Christmas ever.  Let me also share with you that my sister had passed away suddenly early that year and we all needed a celebration.

As we were making our last rounds through the house, we picked up on a smell in the sunroom where the hot tub was. As we got closer the smell became more offensive and we soon realized we were smelling sewage! We lifted the deck flooring that surrounded the tub and we saw that the drain into the main line was totally backed up and coming up into the room and under our flooring we were covered with raw sewage!  YUCK! YUCK! and YUCK!

So what does one do when it is Christmas Eve (no plumbers available) and you have family on the way? You go and rent yourself a massive electric snack and head to the crawl space.

100 foot snake

electric snake 2

Thank goodness the tool rental place was open and could accommodate.  We made multiple trips that day as the 50 foot and 75 foot snakes were not long enough to hit the back up that was way out in the front yard.

Needless to say, I was a mess! On my last trip to the rental joint, I was crying and thought all was ruined.  Mike knew that and while I was gone, he put together a little surprise for me in the crawl space…

crawl space lites1

crawl space lites2

Yep! Mike had hung Christmas lites in the crawl space for me while I was gone. I felt like the Grinch in the scene “it came with out tags, or  ribbons or bows; maybe Christmas is a little bit more.” Yeppers! Christmas was still coming, it was still a happy time and we would have it in our crawl space with our 100 foot electric snake!

debbie and snake

snake and mike

So we went at it in the midst of our Christmas lites and cleared that clog!

all done

That night after everyone was in bed, presents were under the tree and all was nice and clean again we paused and took a picture of ourselves by the fireplace.

us after

Mike and those lites had turned my tears into laughter and smiles. It is a Christmas eve we will not ever forget. What a mess and what a great lesson for us to learn early in our life together. We can count on each other to raise the other up when we need lifting and to see it through to the end — even when it is YUCKY!

Happy Unleashing during this Holiday Season!

FGU

 

Giveaway from Santa Claus

Snapchat-2738044961713754709

Yes, you read that right. I have a little giveaway direct from Santa Claus– Indiana that is.  Did you know that there is a Santa Claus, Indiana? It is in fact the only place you can get a post mark from Santa Claus in the world!

IMG_20141207_124046170

Of course we had to visit the huge Christmas store. I have never seen so many decorations and ornaments in one place.  It was pretty incredible.

IMG_20141207_124903354

It was in this shop that I found the perfect Christmas ornament for my farmgirl sisters. Take a look at this adorable ornament!

IMG_20141209_072240065

Now what farmgirl doesn’t need a cute cowgirl boot on her tree?!

How do you get this? SIMPLE.

Good Luck!

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #179

apronHello and welcome to December! It is cold, but not snowy here currently. Fall decorations are down and chopping a Christmas Tree down this weekend is on the agenda. We are reading about what the small, local towns around us do for the holidays and deciding how we can fit in all the light displays, concerts, plays and other fun things. We are heading to my mom and dad’s tomorrow to get their Christmas decorations down from their attic. I have been looking at Etsy, Pinterest and other DIY sites for really cool, make it yourself Christmas gifts. PJ’s are waiting to be sewn. Hubby and I spent a fun filled evening last night with cheese and crackers and wine doing a bit of online shopping for goodies.

Coming off of a great trip seeing all the kids and spending Thanksgiving with our first grandson was supreme! We cooked and ate and played and enjoyed. It has also just made me reflect on how blessed we are. We have a lovely life with great health. Others around us are not so fortunate and each day I thank God for our health and the ability to do and enjoy what we have.

So it is busy, but filled with holiday fun. What are you enjoying and doing? What are you busy with? Do you go over the top with decorating and baking for the holidays or keep it simple? Glad you took time to join us today; share what you are up to!

Be sure to stop by Deb’s- she is highlighting a beautiful box and sharing a little power tool envy! I love power tools! How about you?

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #178

IMG_64848529874460

Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! I know it was yesterday, but we are still celebrating and visiting. We will have a 2nd round of dinner tonight and I can’t wait. I love the leftovers and spending time with family. An added bonus is that much of our food came from our garden this year. For me that made everything taste better! Celebrating with the kids and our first grandson was (and is) glorious!

Deb has been busy this week moving her mom in and decluttering on top of celebrating Thanksgiving! Oh that word… I love the feeling after decluttering but can procrastinate that one pretty successfully. We try to declutter an area, drawer, cabinet or something for 30 minutes a couple times a week. We have much still to go through since our move and although this does not get it done quickly it does move it forward. How about you? How do you do all the stuff you normally do and still find time to declutter those areas that just seem to hold onto things?

I am thoroughly enjoying fall. I am playing around with low tunnels and cold frames outside. Hopefully we will reap a harvest from those efforts.

IMG_20141123_101052160

What about you? How was your Thanksgiving? Are you making gifts for the holiday? Do you bake lots of cookies and yummies? So glad you are spending part of your day with us. Please share what you are up to!apron

Be sure to stop by Deb’s and see who won the giveaway and say hello! Thanks for joining us!

 

 

Low Tunnel Update

IMG_20141011_190339283_HDRThis weekend the snow was gone and it peaked 50 degrees.  The soil in the cold frames was warmed up a bit (55 degrees from 40) so I planted some lettuce, claytonia, spinach and kale in there (winter varieties).

The low tunnels have been secured since we put them in. They have carried a load of snow and withheld some wicked winds. I was dying to know how things were doing in there. Plus it was sunny and warm with a bit of rain in the forecast for the afternoon so it was perfect timing to open them up for the day.

Here is what I saw!

Brocolini & broccoli, collards and brussel sprouts…

IMG_20141123_101043032

brussel sprouts

IMG_20141123_093421223

Cabbages…purple, green and pok choi

cabbages

Every one looks happy and growing except the cauliflowers. They are growing, but their leaves are turning white– not yellow but white. Hopefully a little research will tell me what they are lacking and experiencing.

They all enjoyed the warmth and the gentle rain in the afternoon. We covered them back up to protect them from the 40 + MPH winds we are expecting today. I am happy to see they are doing well. It was fun to peak for a bit!

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Bee Visit with a Visitor

IMG_20141109_152626581When we got the bees in the spring, we bought protective gear to wear on our visits to them. I love the gear and it keeps me calm out there and totally focused on the bees rather than me. We had the great idea of purchasing one extra set of gear for visitors that might be here that would want to go see the bees. So glad we did that, because when Laura and family visited she wanted to go see the bees!
Like a good mommy, I made sure she was all zipped up and enclosed. She is a mommy herself now, but I still gotta do that! She indulged me…

DSC_0373

And off we went to visit the bees along with hubby. We showed her to smoke and how the hive tool helps us to pry things apart gently.

DSC_0375

DSC_0376

DSC_0379

We saw honey and bee activity and she was amazed at the little critters (same for us every time we visit them)

DSC_0400

DSC_0404

DSC_0389

DSC_0416

Soon Laura had her hands in there and was inspecting the bees herself!

DSC_0415

She loved it; maybe a future beekeeper?

DSC_0401

This was really fun to share with her; glad we have the extra gear!

Happy Unleashing,

FGU

Cranberry Chutney

You may be like me and thought your entire life that you did not like cranberries or cranberry sauce. That stuff in the can just seemed like a glob to me and it had zero appeal. I know that some of you love that stuff and I respect that, but it just seemed like really thick jello to and I am not a jello fan either.

Fast forward to adult life and passing age 45 and I discovered cranberries. Yep, the real deal cranberries. Oh now there is a yummy little morsel!

IMG_20141122_133653021

I tried making several different cranberry sauces and although they were better than the canned stuff they were all so sweet. I am a savory taste person on Thanksgiving–no marshmallows on my sweet potatoes, no honey on the carrots and no cranberry sauce that is sweet like jelly. Don’t get me wrong, I love sweets! But I just save my sweet taste buds for pies at dessert!

A few years back I discovered a cranberry chutney recipe. I cannot recall where I got this from; it might have been Good Housekeeping Magazine. I love it and now it has become a tried and true, Thanksgiving and Christmas thing.

The great thing is that you just dump all this stuff in a saucepan, bring to a boil and then simmer slowly for the afternoon. The recipe says 30 minutes, I simmer for 3 – 4 hours on low. It gets a wonderful think consistency and all the cranberries burst open with flavor.

Here’s what you need to fill your saucepan:

1 bag (12 oz) cranberries

1 C Brown Sugar (make your own using 1 cup of sugar and 1 TBL Molasses mixed up in a food processor)

1/2 C dried apricots chopped

1/2 C Golden Raisins (honestly the dark raisins don’t cut it in this recipe)

1/4 C Cider Vinegar (I use Braggs)

2 TBL minced fresh ginger (so much of the goodness comes from this!)

IMG_20141122_135150776

1 small onion finely chopped

1 clementine or small orange peeled and chopped (save the peel if you brine your turkey)

1/2 tsp salt

IMG_20141122_134943566

IMG_20141122_140129507

Into the sauce pan it all goes. Bring to a boil and then simmer, simmer, simmer. Simmer as long or as short as you want; consistency is up to you. I like mine reduced down good.

IMG_20141122_144014918

This is really great stuff. Yummy on Thanksgiving but really splendid on the turkey sandwich I know you’re gonna have for leftovers!

If you are like me and thought you did not like cranberries or would like something less sweet with a little kick, try this! Let me know if you do and what you think.

Happy Unleashing (in the kitchen this week!)

FGU