Musings: Night Sounds

No pictures today, because this post is on sounds–night sounds specifically.  I remember years ago visiting my sister in NY city. She lived smack dab in the middle of the city and it is noisy there.  All night long I would hear sirens and I would get up and look out the window to see what was happening. The next morning when I shared all that I had seen, she said “oh I didn’t even hear them.”  I could not believe my ears!  Maybe she was going deaf, maybe she had some illness that knocked her into a coma like state when she slept.  I mean how could you not hear that!? She said she was “used to it.” For her it was just the sounds of the night.

Hummmm…I recall living near a train track years ago and at first the train whistle at 2 a.m. would wake me up and I would complain about it.  It did not take long though for me to “get used to it.” My mom and dad would visit and my mom would say “how can you sleep with that train going all night?” And I would say, I did not really hear it; I guess I was “used to it.”

I would go away and sleep elsewhere and I would miss it.  That had become the night sound that I could count on; it told me all was right with the world out there in the darkness.

Now we live on a State Road.  Our house is set way back, but we can see the traffic and hear the traffic when it passes. The road is a byway for cars, trucks, tractors, and motorcycles when the weather permits.  I love sitting on the porch watching them all pass by.  I imagine that they all envy me for living here in the openness of BSA. They probably don’t even notice me or the house, but in my imagination they do. 🙂

Last night while sleeping, I turned over and as I was in that in between state, I heard a truck go by.  I realized I was snuggled down and smiling to that sound.  That sound tells me so much.  In the winter the lack of that sound all night tells me it is icy outside and impassible.  Last night in the quietness, that little hum of the passerby truck, told me all was well.  I love the hum that I hear while sleeping here.  It is my lullaby and eases me back to sleep when I turn over to fluff the pillow or pull up the blankets.  Some folks that visit think that is disturbing.  I just say that I don’t really notice it; I guess I am “used to it.”

What is your favorite night sound?

Happy Unleashing,

FGU

Musings: Country Byways

After traveling so much lately it is refreshing to be out of traffic.  This “hit me like a brick” yesterday while running some errands and driving home. I realized that although I was driving–the same task that I have been doing weeks on end, my posture and feeling about it were 180 degrees totally opposite from what I had previously been experiencing.

I don’t care for traffic at all.  I get impatient, I get nervous, I get worried, I stress over being late, I fear that I will get hurt or killed, I watch the clock and listen to traffic reports.

Yesterday while driving on the very open road and listening to “Desperado” (singing  along  very loudly I might add), I realized that I was so content and happy and just in shear enjoyment of my surroundings.  It was as close to a spiritual experience as one could have while driving a car.

I raised my phone and using my touchscreen I just started snapping pictures. Since I was driving and could not look at my phone to focus, many of the pictures were trash, but some captured the beauty, serenity and majesty of what was before me.

Isn’t this lovely?

IMG_20140710_130618409

IMG_20140710_130349901

IMG_20140710_130551491

IMG_20140710_130202741

IMG_20140710_130417135

IMG_20140710_130100398

 

Just me and the open road. Some would have find this drive “boring”; I find it delightful and peaceful. When I arrived home, I was in the best mood and just totally happy and relaxed.  What a different feeling from driving (sitting) in traffic.

I just love it here!  Again, I say “there’s no place like home.”

Happy Unleashing (on the open road)

FGU

Saturday Musings: Heading Home

Two weeks in Atlanta with the new grandbaby and my daughters.  It has been wonderful and not to be traded!  A little life came into the world perfectly and my daughter has transformed into a beautiful (obsessed) mommy; her first step towards a lifetime of “momminess.”  I have loved being here, loved holding that little bundle and will long for that when I go home.

arlo and me

But home is where I am heading this weekend and I am equally excited about that!  Now it is not a neat little package I am walking into!  A remodel is underway and the crew and my hubby have done a lot of work while I have been gone.

I can’t wait to see my new door.  A window was here previously but this gives us great access to the deck (which we live on practically!) and look at all the sunshine into the room! Jasmine still looks a bit confused by this new addition, but I am already in love with it.

kitchen

From the outside I think it looks great and I can start to visualize the end result. We are coming along in our journey to get the house where we want it.  AND all the vinyl siding is off (yipee!) and the house is wrapped and ready for the new Hardiplank that is painted and waiting in the pole barn for action.

exterior deck

 

So, it is a bit chaotic and terribly dusty and things are torn up but it is HOME.  I look forward to all of the craziness that will welcome me home.

I also have day lillies that I have not seen yet…

lillies

And tomato plants (and weeds) that I haven’t seen in over two weeks…

tomato and weeds

 

I am plenty excited to head back to my country home. I love seeing my family and I have LOVED that little bundle of joy, but am ready for a sunrise on the deck.  I am ready to play in the dirt again and hop on my tractor instead of an interstate.

But for my last day as a “city girl” we are getting our nails done–soon to be replaced with a farmgirl manicure; I will eat a fantastic dinner and drink some great wine tonight–soon to be replace with veggies from the garden and CSA; I will chow down at Waffle House–soon to be replaced with green smoothies and I will probably run some errands that really aren’t needed–soon to be replaced with not leaving my home for days on end.

I will also hug my girls and kiss those precious cheeks on Arlo–soon to be replaced with longing for that as those things really can’t be replaced.

I am heading home to my country home that is in chaos.  As I click my red shoes (red Teva sandles actually) I repeat “there’s no place like home.” 🙂

Happy Unleashing today in your home sweet home!

FGU

Mimi Moments

mom and arloLife changing moments occur for all of us. A biggie happened to me on June 17th when I witnessed my middle daughter become a mommy for the first time!  And I, instantly transformed into grandma, affectionately known as “Mimi”  to my family. It is amazing, as many of you know, to enter this experience on the journey of  life. As each day passes and Arlo is in our lives, I find myself finding multitudes of joyous moments that I have been referring to as “Mimi Moments”  I would love to share some of these with you. The first moment having Arlo in my arms was pure heaven. The happiness is and was indescribable. mimi and arlo Another came in calming baby Arlo and showing his mommy and daddy some “tricks”.  After several minutes of “blowing off some steam” (ie crying), Mimi had a try at comforting the little one. I pulled out an old carrying position that was always a sure thing with my girls, and instant quiet. Magic! (not really, just some years under me) My daughter is nursing Arlo. I nursed all three of mine and it thrills me when Laura asks me for guidance or just feels like she can talk to me about this. I love that we are experiencing the same emotions with our firstborn 25+ years apart. On Day 2 the nurse arrived to examine Arlo. He was not happy about being undressed and poked at. I stood over the bassinet held his little hand, rubbed his leg and foot and he calmed. I felt so happy knowing that I could make that traumatic experience a little better for him. Afterwards as he stared at me I felt like his little eyes were saying “wow that was a team effort!” I have loved Laura recalling childhood and teenage moments with me as her mommy.  Some I remember and some I do not.  It is amazing what sticks with your children. I am so happy that Laura takes with her the fact that I loved being a mom. I also take such joy in seeing Arlo’s daddy loving his new role. The way he waits on my daughter and grandson is thrilling and assures me there is nothing to worry about as far as their care goes.  Laura has a partner in parenting; what a gift! I was honored to drive the new family home as Arlo “sang” the entire way. carseat Laura and Adam have been so grateful to have “Mimi” around which of course makes me happy.  I am glad I am helping and easing their worries the best I can.  Adam thanked me sincerely before leaving the hospital and said he felt like he was learning from the “master.” That strokes the ego, but more than that really fulfills something deep inside.  My most treasured role is that of mommy. The nights awake with all three of mine in the quietness of their nursing and breathing are some of my most sacred moments of my life. I am beyond happy to share those experiences of joy (and fear) with them. Yesterday, when I visited them at home, Arlo was happily lying on Mommy.  At my arrival she passed him onto “Mimi”.  Arlo in turn got a bit fussy about leaving mom.  The greatest Mimi moment yet, was passing that little guy back to mommy knowing that his greatest comfort is in her arms. Me becoming a “Mimi” or my daughter  becoming a “Mommy”?  It is a toss up as to which is the greatest Mimi moment. Happy Unleashing! FGU

Adjusting to Four Seasons

I love living in an area with four seasons.  I have loved the fall colors, the snow, the lillies in the spring and hot, humid days of summer. BUT I still don’t seem to really be in sync with the four seasons.  In the south, on Jan. 2, you basically are blowing leaves off the driveway, ordering your pinestraw to put in the beds and if you plant you are planning and getting going on the garden Feb/March. My friends in the south are posting pics of veggies and garden fresh dinners and I am feeling behind!

We are at May 15th and I have been in a panic about getting my tomato babies outside!  I “feel” like I am behind.  My brain is still on the schedule I have had for 20+ years.  Last weekend we prep our big bed for them at BSA (Big Sky Acres).  It is 33 x 25 (Garden Bed #6) and had a cover crop on it during winter.  We went out and turned the cover crop, we laid out a wonderfully measured grid with string, I laid out the plan of what tomatoes and what peppers where going where in a beautifully color coded spreadsheet.

garden grid

 

Yes it is a little geeky, but I am in technology by day don’t forget. 🙂

It has rained this week and now we have cool temps.  AND I have been in this upheaval about getting these tomatoes in the ground (like yesterday!).  It had to happen NOW! I mean it is about the middle of summer (isn’t it?)

This morning, when the temps were showing 48 degrees and my forecast didn’t look much better, I took a breath and paused and asked myself if my tomatoes were worrying about leaving the warmth of the pole barn and their heated mat or was it just me who wanted to throw them into the cold because I was on an old time frame in my head. I mean look at my forecast!

weather

 

I had not even checked my soil temps yet!  I can just about guarantee that they are not in the 70’s yet and certainly not approaching 80 degrees.  Then I asked myself “when did I plant tomatoes last year?” Well…. that would have been June 10th I said to myself sheepishly.

THEN I MADE A DECISION!  I need to remember I am in Indiana.  My Indiana guidelines say NOT to plant until after mid May (which I am just now approaching and my hubby’s mamma said her rule of thumb here was Memorial Weekend).  I am NOT in the south.  I love Indiana. My mantra became–

I love and embrace my planting schedule!

So for today, my tomatoes and peppers will stay with their heat mat and lights. I will begin to harden them off next week. Garden Bed #1 that is also prepped will today receive seeds of spinach, chard, peas, lettuce and radishes.  ALL of which love 45 degree soil and planting at this very time in Indiana.

I am in Indiana. I am not late on my garden. I am in perfect timing!

Happy Unleashing in whatever gardening zone you are in!

FGU

 

School Lessons

school booksGoing back to school was a scary thing for me.  I have not been to a college class in 30+ years AND I dabbled in college when I was young.  Took a few classes, did not graduate and went on to working, then getting married and then having babies. I have considered going back off and on through the years, but it was not until we moved out to “Big Sky Acres” (BSA) that I really started contemplating what I wanted life to look like now.

Gardening was already in my heart and I had dabbled in that too during the years off and on.  BUT having all this land and a pond, it seemed that the possibilities were endless. So we kicked off our experiment in breaking the ground last year and grew lots of yummy things in a total of 8 gardens by the time we were done.  AND the bug hit hard! I knew there was and is something great I can do with this land. But what????

Trying to figure out what “that great thing is” led me to school.  If I want to grow for a CSA, or have a community garden, or teach people to garden organically I was going to need some education. Experimenting is wonderful, and I will never quit that, but I need some major knowledge to help guide those experiments here.

I cannot say enough good things about the global university program at Washington State University. They have a wonderful Organic Ag program and I LOVED the first semester.  I have just completed that and I have learned alot already.  And I don’t just mean about Ph, Soil Taxonomy, Ions, Cation Exchange, Plant and Human Nutrients, and a plethora of other topics covered.  I learned so much I could not possibly list it all here AND it is stuff I am using which is really great!

The really awesome thing is what I learned other than the scholarly stuff. It has been a challenging few months and it ended well with two A’s but as I reflect my lessons are so much greater.

What are they?

It takes discipline to manage many moving parts.  I love to be casual with my schedule at times and “go with the flow” My creative side loves that. But discipline is what it took to study and still do the other things I needed to do. I wrote a schedule down and stuck to it.  I am convinced that helped me in more ways than one!

It takes support.  My hubby made meals, cleaned house, took the dog to the vet, went to the grocery, and TONS of other things that were falling through the cracks on “my watch.”  He never complained but just continued to tell me he was proud of me and was happy to do anything that was needed so I would not have to.

It takes a dictionary! Yeppers!  I have not opened a dictionary in a long time.  Dictionary.com and I have become good friends.  The app for my phone even says the word for me so when I read a word like “campylobacter” or “mycorrhizae” or “hemosiderin”,  or “Histisols”my little app can tell me how to say it. 🙂 I can save favorite words too.  That became a great study tool!

It takes a positive attitude. There were many times that I did not have that.  I got overwhelmed with the classes, work and our remodeling that we have going on.  And spring was knocking at the door and I wanted to play in the soil, not just study about it!  Those were the times that I needed my Farmgirl friends that are online, a chat with a daughter or a hug from hubby.

Which leads me to you need to be unafraid to tell your real feelings to someone. There is no crime in asking for help or just telling someone you don’t thing you can do it anymore or that you want to jump out a window, or crawl under a blanket.  Talking helps!

You need to learn to say “no” and honor your time and commitment.  No matter what you are doing in your life today, there is something you need to say no to. There is nothing wrong with making a commitment to yourself, scheduling the time for it on your calendar and then KEEPING IT THERE.  I think as women especially, we tend to let anything and anyone override our commitments to ourselves.  I could not afford to do that this semester and it has taught me that the world continues to function when I say no.

AND I learned that if I think I can, I can. If I believe in something I can commit to it.  If I commit to it and I can hang in there, I can succeed at it!

Success came in the form of two A’s from WSU, but for me it comes in alot of these other lessons that were packaged along with those A’s.  I believe that I would have still learned those things even without the A’s and those lessons along with all the great AG stuff I am learning is a winning combo!

Have you ever tried something totally new and learned not only that new thing but other things in the process?

Happy Unleashing with something new today!

FGU

 

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #154

apronSpring is in the air and I know this for a fact because I have spent many hours on the tractor this week cutting and raking! I even got to turn my headlights on the Kubota last night since it was dark when I finished!

AND my tulips are coming up and adding color to the otherwise barren landscape.

tulips

The garden is full of all kinds of things growing.  Some would call them weeds; I like to think of them as nutrient sources for the plants to come!

Are you in sunshine?  Are you enjoying outdoors again?  Take a few minutes and share what you are up to this week.Let’s get it going! Be sure to stop by all our hosts! And a Happy Easter to those of you that will be celebrating this weekend! Blessings to all!

Deb of Dandelion House (our blog hop founder and hostess primo)

Heidi of My Simple Country Living  

and White Wolf Summit Farmgirl Blog

and me, Debbie of Farmgirl Unleashed

So, do a little bragging on yourself, your homestead and your doin’s!  We are so excited you are here.

Be sure to leave a note if you’re new to the hop! If you haven’t clicked that follow button yet, please join us and be sure to stop by our FACEBOOK page and like us there too!
Please include the Farmgirl Friday button ( or link back here ) in your post and remember to share this hop with all of your blogging friends!
You don’t have to live on a farm to join this hop!

 Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart~ MaryJaneButters

 

Saturday Musings: Wintertime and Waiting

DSC_0793Winter has been a long one this year just about everywhere.  I have loved looking at the snow and the stillness of it blanketing our land.

But on the flip side we have had more than one occasion where we have been unable to leave for more than a week because our uphill driveway is a skating rink when it ices and snows.  If you are paved, you can shovel.  If you have a gravel, curved, up hill and down hill driveway, that is pretty much impossible, so you just wait.

Waiting has goodness in it– you learn patience, you learn to slow down, you learn that you really can get by with what you have at the house, even if it is 2 weeks since you have been out.  You learn that what you thought you had to have, you don’t have to have.

I remember living in a sub division in a warm climate.  Snow did not keep you incapacitated for a long period of time. If we had snow or ice on rare occasion it stood the city still for a day or maybe two at the most.  That seemed like an eternity when you live in an area where running errands are part of your lifestyle.  Where running low on anything (even if it was something you really didn’t like) meant near panic, making a list and heading out to run errands. If I stayed home all day for any reason it was really almost like a badge of honor. “What did you do today?” “I was HERE ALL DAY; never left; wow!” And even if I had taken a day to grocery shop, get personal items and whatever else that was deemed a “got to have” just yesterday,  I would run out again to pick up something, to do something, to see something… just to whatever something! 🙂

I think living in a place where there is so much stuff, so much choice and so much accessibility causes you to be create a lifestyle of errand running.  Sure you complain about how much you have to go do, how much you hate traffic, how much you hate lines, but the truth is you know no different.  It is your lifestyle. Stuff is all around you and there has to be something you need out there!

When I visit I find myself in the pattern in less than 24 hours.  A couple times a day, I am somewhere getting something or doing something that I have to do.  It is funny because I really do think it is like an addiction. Remember the line in the movie “if you build it,they will come”.  That is so true in a metro/suburban area.  If it is there, you got to do it!

So, back to snow and slowing down.  I love living out away from traffic lights, away from corners and streets that are so busy your brain is on overload.  I love living away from all the stuff that calls for me to leave everyday and go buy something, or go do something. Since moving here, I have changed my errand lifestyle into a LIVING lifestyle.  I LIVE here in my home.  I don’t just hang out here until I feel that I have to be somewhere else.  It is just the opposite; it has to be a good reason to leave.

During one of the storms this year, it started with ice and lots of it.  Our driveway was packed solid and our truck would spin and it was going on 10 + days since we had left.  I was getting creative on the dinner front (but that was really fun and another blog).  Hubby was determined that he had to get us out.  He took the tractor out with the scoop and tried and tried.  But even big orange Kabota tractors can’t break up gravel cemented by ice.

Conversation when he came in went something like this:

“Wow, I cannot get that stuff to break up”.  It is solid ice!” I will try again later”

“Why?”

“Because we have been here for a week and a half. We gotta go get stuff.”

“What stuff?”

“Aren’t we out of stuff?”

“Yes, but nothing that important.”

“We need to keep eating and stuff.”

“We have so much food that we haven’t even discovered yet in the pantry! We will not starve.”

“There must be something, are you sure????”

“If it was 70 degrees and sunny, would we feel compelled to go out today to run errands?”

“Hummm…. probably not! I guess we can just forget the ice and stay here, huh?”

“Yep!”

“Are you sure? I mean really sure?”

“Positive! Forget the ice and relax. We are good!”

So funny that sometimes we don’t even know what the “stuff” is that we need.  But bottom line is that it is probably nothing that we do need. Learning to wait, learning to make do with what you have and learning to run errands when you really do need to shop for a couple weeks is a wonderful lifestyle.  Lots of friends from suburbia think they would go crazy being “stuck” for 2 weeks. Maybe for the first couple of days, but then you relax, enjoy what you have, and realize, just like Dorothy that “everything I was looking for has been here all the time. There’s no place like home.”

Happy unleashing today! (whether you are snowbound or not!

FG

 

 

The Sound of Music: Sump Pump

sump pumpBeing from the city, I had not had a sump pump prior in my life.  When we moved out to the country a sump pump and septic system got introduced to my life.  The sump pump was a little irritating at first.  I could not figure out the “knock, knock, knock” I would hear from the basement at intervals. I would be sitting in my living room and there it would go– hum of the motor and “knock, knock, knock.”

With the septic I had to learn what products I could and could not use. That was such a blessing because that took me on the road to making my own cleaning products which I love doing and is another blog post!

Back to my sump pump.  Over the months I got used to the sound and started LOVING that sound.  When it rained I knew that little thing was at work to keep us dry.  I could go in the basement without fear of water down there.  The sump pump was gaining my respect.

A few months ago, we were out of town and the electricity went out and with that so did the sump pump.  When we came home the electricity was back on, but the sump pump was not.  An air bubble was caught up in it and it had failed to go back on.  AND guess what? We had water in the basement. YUCK!  Hubby got the pump going, we cleaned up and eventually the sump pump did its thing and dried us out.

Last night, Indiana was in the midst of the ice/snow storm.  A big fear was the power failing from the weight of the ice on the trees and wires.  We prepared by having flashlights out and candles.  We talked about if we had no power that would mean no heat, but we have lots of warm clothes, blankets, long underwear, etc so we would be ok.  We are stocked with food again after our grocery outing on Saturday.  We felt we were pretty good to go.

Except for one thing…the sump pump– oh, oh!  No mitigation for that going out! Of all things here, we are so dependent on that little guy running. And to think it irritated me when I moved in (so ashamed).  That was before I understood what an important role this thing plays in my every day comfort!

I found myself hoping against all hope and sending messages to the sump pump—–

“SUMP PUMP WE NEED YOU TO KEEP GOING! PLEASE LET ME HEAR YOU KNOCKING ALL NIGHT TAKING CARE OF OUR HOME AND US!”

The little guy kept going all night and was my sign as I laid in the dark that we had electricity and all was well.  That sound that used to interrupt me and irritate me has become such a comfort and last night was just the sound of music to my soul.

Happy Unleashing today! (stay warm and dry!)

FG

Ravioli: Throw Down of the Gadgets!

I have been making pasta for a while now.  I love, love, love to make it.  It is easy and so superior to any store bought dried pasta.  And economically, like most things you make yourself, it is cheaper.

Last month in MJFarm Magazine they had pages of pasta.  Once again ravioli on my radar as I have a new ravioli maker.  You know,” one of those cool rectangles that you put the dough in and then the filling and then it all comes out pretty and perfect” ravioli makers. I got this one at a really great price on clearance and I was truly convinced that this device would change my life and lead me away from my “pasta wheel” days.

Little did I know that my evening would end up being a throwdown between the new ravioli gadget and my tried and true pasta wheel.

press

 

VS.

pastawheel

First the recipe. Pasta dough is easy.  I use two ingredients to start with for all pasta.  Italian Flour (which is 00 flour), pronounced double zero flour. You can get this at King Arthur Flour.  It makes light and airy pasta.  You can use regular flour, semolina or mix them, but I am sold on 00 flour.  BUT don’t let not having this stop you; homemade pasta IS homemade pasta. 🙂

For every 3/4 C add 1 egg.  Mix in your mixer, food processor or on a counter. Knead until it all comes together and forms a nice ball.  You can use after about 30 minutes or refrigerate and use within 3 days.

If you want to, you can flavor your pasta with lemon pepper, seasonings, beet juice, spinach that has been cooked and pulverized, etc.  Last night I had some pizza sauce left from the weekend and pesto that I had frozen in the summer. I mixed the two up and added a couple tablespoons.  The pasta wasn’t overwhelmingly flavored but was nice tasting and pretty too. You can use your imagine here; the sky is the limit.

For the filling I mixed 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 C (generous) of shredded Asiago and 1 C of shredded Amish Butter Cheese.  As I side note, I have never used Amish Butter Cheese in pasta before.  But snowbound and lacking in a grocery shopping trip in weeks, I am getting very creative in my choices. We were out of mozzarella, so I had to “go to the bench” as they say in baseball.

I don’t have pictures, but I proceeded to roll out the pasta in sheets, I followed the gadget’s directions play by play (I am darn good at following directions) and I completed the process of making perfectly shaped, cheesy filled, tomato basil ravioli.  That was until I tried to remove them from handy dandy gadget.  They would not come out.  I mean they were one with the ravioli maker and there was no way they were coming out easy or in anything that would resemble a ravioli square!!  They hit the trash can.  Not a pretty picture, but had to share.

trash

Lucky for me, I had doubled the pasta recipe in hopes of pasta later this week. I rolled it out again in sheets and tossed aside my new fancy gadget. Some things get a second chance and others just don’t.  I was determined to have pasta and this thing had not given me even a ray of hope that it was the ticket.

“Pasta wheel, you are up! Get off the bench and come play.

You can save the game (or at least dinner)!”

I laid out the sheets of pasta, added little spoonfuls of filling a couple of inches apart and then topped with another sheet of pasta.  Then my tried and true pasta wheel did the rest. Perfect lines, no sticking, just wonderful ravioli heading to dry a bit on the cookie sheet.

cookiesheet

Success!  I had lots of ravioli and into the pot of water they headed.

drain

They cook fast– 6 minutes or so.  Then I topped with a little sauce, fresh Parmesan and some steamed broccoli.

bowl

Lessons

One–tried and true is best even if it is a simple gadget it is dependable!

Two– I can be very creative with no fresh groceries in the house.  The pantry, freezer and I are becoming quite ingenious in our meals.

Three-ALWAYS make double pasta dough!  You never know….

Happy Unleashing (and go make some pasta!)

FG