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Monday, November 24, 2014

"Come See My Basement Door... and We'll Be Jolly Friends Forever More...."

I seem to remember some children's song that mentioned a basement door... mine has never been one to sing about....



Ever have one of those little decorating things that just irritates you but isn't something you think about until you see it? I mean, to everyone else there is nothing wrong but you see this defect (at least to you) and it drives you nuts every time you notice it?

                                                   That is my basement door.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with my basement door mind you. It's a plain white door that goes to my basement, that's all. But that is the issue. It's P-L-A-I-N. The room that it is in is one that I love because I painted it years ago to look like there are leaves falling from my ceiling on the walls.









I love this room because when the sun comes through the window, it lights up the entire room. There have actually been times when I thought I left the light on in that room only to discover it's the way the light reflects on the walls. I also love it because I created this look with just three colors of acrylic paint that I slapped on the wall in an "X" pattern and then smoothed out with another brush so there was really no expense at all other than the leaves stencil.











But the door. It just looked out of place.


This weekend I took care of that in a matter of an hour and here is what I did.

I knew I wanted something like a wreath on the door and something that said, "basement" but, well, fancy-like. So I went to Google images and found a wreath I liked. Then I went to the website, babelfish.com and typed in the word "Basement" and translated it into different languages until I found one that I liked (French). I opened a word document and typed this word using a script that I favored and then pasted the image of the wreath on it, resizing it to fit the paper. I then put the image behind the text and this is what I came up with.





 
 
I copied it on to tracking paper like I showed you on the Halloween piece we did earlier in my post called, "If You Can Color in a Coloring Book You Can Paint". Following those exact directions, I taped the image to the door and slid the graphite paper underneath to transfer my pattern.
 
 
 


 
 
 
After I transferred it, I needed to determine what colors I was going to use. I decided to go with a grey, highlighted with a bit of yellow to bring in the walls, and white as a natural highlight and shade it with charcoal.
 
 
 
First I base coated it in the grey.
 
 
 
 
 
Secondly I added the yellow. This is right by a window so I had the natural light that determined where the highlight should be.
 




Then I added the white highlight.
 
 
 
Remember to "walk out the paint by using a damp brush and a little paint on one corner. Using your "pallet" (this one is an old clean take out container) stroke the paint until it forms a gradual gradient.
 
 

 
 
 
Then added the shading and outlined it. I went a bit heavy with the outline but that's fine, I liked the end result.
 


 
 
I ended up putting the text back in after painting it because it became "smeared".
To clean it up, I just used a damp dishtowel with a bit of dishsoap. Then cleaned it off with a clean damp dishtowel.
 
Then I used the original pattern, lined it up, transferred it and did the text.
 
 
 
 
 
I have to say, I'm kind of digging the way it came out. (Not the best image of the text).
 
 
 
 
The last step is to take a pencil eraser and erase any of the lines that are still visible.
Then take a matte varnish and just go over the image that you made so that it doesn't get
damaged and you can wash the door if it gets smudged without danger of loosing your work.
 

 
 
It looks so much nicer now. I love looking into my laundry room and feeling like it is finally "DONE".
 
 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nestling in for a Long Winter

Fall is definitely over!
Wow, am I tired.


Today was a whirl of activity here at the Farmhouse in the Field. According the Buffalo weather report, we may be getting up to two feet of snow on Tuesday! We simply weren't ready and so we had to get ready fast! Then we woke up Monday morning to this!







Unfortunately, my suspicion is that it's going to be a rough winter. We've had a few winters where it was up to sixty degrees in December but this year the furnace started to be put into service by end of October. That's early. Too early....

What it looked like when I got to work.



So yesterday we drove posts and put up the snow fence. The purpose of the snow fence is to help to create a barrier to help break up the wind that is driving the snow so that there isn't as much snow coming in to block up the protected area. In our case that is our driveway.
There have been many mornings where the driveway was no where to be seen.

Those are NOT fun mornings!


The snow fences are up!

We space the posts about every ten feet and drive them down with a post driver. It's simply a pill shaped cylinder with handles that you put on the end of a post and drop. (It's also a great workout for aggression so if you've had a bad day, go out and drive some posts!) Then the snow fence is stretched out and zip stripped to the posts.



Next we had to get the blade attached to the lawn mower. I hate, hate, hate this job. It typically involves my husband and I laying on the cold cement trying to locate where the cotter pins go in. The only worse thing than that is putting the mower deck on the mower in the spring time.

Then I wrapped the cherry trees in burlap. This is their first winter and I just got a replacement tree last week. I understand that they send the trees in the fall because the trees are dormant but in November? Really? I mean, I once received a butterfly bush I ordered in December. December? What part of b-u-t-t-e-r-f-l-y bush sounds like it is should have anything with the month of December? I don't get it.






All tucked in for a long winter's nap!
The main reason that you have to burlap young trees has nothing really to do with the snow. Trees don't die because of the coldness, they die because they dehydrate due to the low humidity and whipping winds. Putting them in a burlap blanket helps to protect them.










Finally the garage was swept out and all the odds in ends put away so finally we can park our cars in the garage. I don't know why but it's so depressing in the winter when, after fighting the elements, you open the garage door only to see a mess. I'm definitely not a clean freak by any one's standards, but that is just plainly demoralizing. So the garage is now cleaned up, the workbench area is more organized and now all that's left is to move around the living room and start our woodstove.

Ah... it's good to be all tucked in for our winter's hibernation...



Baby Dixon
 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Christmas Hardware



 

I got the best gift I'll get all holiday season this weekend!
















My parents came to visit from Michigan!


I suppose when you live close to your family, you sometimes can end up take them for granted from time to time, but when you only see your loved ones once or twice a year at most, it's truly a treat to have a visit or visit them. My parents are absolutely wonderful people and it's really a joy to have them visit.



Trying to figure out something that would be entertaining to both my mom and dad though, not always easy. However, I found something that did fit the bill... A hardware store that carries with it a surprise....

In the sleepy little village of Gasport, NY, hides a surprise that brings those in the know. It's the Ace Hardware in the Standish-Jones building and there, it is always Christmas! http://www.standishjones.com/



Did You?


We aren't talking a few aisles of Christmas decorations.. instead, we are talking two rooms in the back and an entire top floor. Each room is set up with a theme so it's fun to just wander and explore. And being a hardware shop, my dad got to wander and talk.. my dad is definitely a people person..probably where my son gets some of his verbosity.

A Christmas Guardian





Anyway, we had fun wandering room to room and seeing what was there. Here are some highlights:













Tea Anyone?

Ok, This is Just Fun!

Yes Please!



I have it on good authority that Santa prefers Chocolate Chip.

I totally have a thing for Snowmen!

In case you couldn't tell..

We think this is suppose to be a cardinal but it looks like a  parrot to us.





I have a bad thing for snow globes. I collect them and there were some beautiful ones here. I may have to make a trip later in the season to bring a couple of these guys home.
Like this one.

And maybe this one.

 


Snow balls!

Wouldn't this even look nifty as a decoration?






 

And on a More Sober Note, here is my Public Service Announcement:

 




Santa, I believe! I really do!


Monday, November 3, 2014

Reality Check: Patches Don't Make a Farmgirl

Turning on one of my favorite cooking shows.....


Thank you Graphics Fairy!

The kids go down to the barn, all clean and sweet, to feed the baby calves with a milk bottle. The calves are almost as adorable as the kids and everything looks so wonderful and wholesome. Everything is wonderfully clean and organized.

And this is presented as reality...

Or..



I pick up one of my favorite magazines and read how you can create your "farmgirl patches" and that you can live in the city and still be a "farm girl" if you feel it in your heart.

Thank you Graphics Fairy!


Um, sorry to say that patches don't make a farmgirl and life on a farm isn't that organized.

That's not to say I begrudge these shows and magazines from presenting and idealized version of the "product" that they are selling, after all, I'm obviously buying their product too. But, having grown up on a farm, I realize what reality is and what fantasy is. Growing up on a farm teaches you what reality is and a lot of valuable lessons that will serve you well throughout your life.

  
 
 
  1. Everyone in a farm family has a role.When you are born to a farm family you realize that even as a child you have a role in the success of the family business. I learned how to drive a tractor at the age of 7 or 8 to help my father with bailing hay because there wasn't anyone else available. You have chores and you learn that when you don't do them, there are repercussions. Something doesn't get fed, it comes through the fence. The gate isn't locked correctly, you end up chasing animals.
  2. Farming is a dirty, messy business - and that's ok.
    Farming involves muck, mess and sometimes mucus.        
    Let me tell you, as cute as those little calves are, try lugging six 2qt bottles heavy with milk that you mixed together down to the barn in 20 degree weather, plugging them into the feeder and then getting slimed with calf mucus when they miss or when you take up the bottle. Of course there is also the benefit of having your "bad touch" areas head butted by a calf trying to get milk. It's work and it's worth it, but it's not as pretty as television will make you believe that's for sure.

    My niece with this year's pig at the Genesee County Fair.
  3. Livestock are not pets. They have a purpose. Farmers are not heartless but the recognize the circle of life probably better than anyone. They'll do everything they can to try to save an animal's life in an emergency situation but ultimately that animal's purpose is to provide a meal for his or her family and a livelihood. It's a harsh reality that not everyone can face. Meat doesn't come from a store all wrapped up nicely, an animal had to give it's life so you can eat. The most we can do is be thankful for their sacrifice. Vegetarianism hasn't always been a choice. I highly doubt there were any vegetarians during the Ice Age. Also remember, life is life.  Vegetables also have life, eating a vegetable is still taking life. We've just simply rationalized that one is better or worse than the other.
  4. You learn to be adaptable, early. This is probably one of the most valuable lessons I think you learn growing up on a farm. Life has a way of changing your plans-adapt or die. Many mornings I would wake up to find the cows wandering in the front yard and have to go out there in my nightgown and chase them with the neighbors to get them back in. (Also modesty, as you can see, often goes out the door as well.) Recently on a trip back home for Christmas, one of the animals was sick and possibly dying. My mom went out to assist my dad so I took up the duties of working on the dinner so she could deal with the animal.
  5. Panicking is a luxury. When you panic on a farm something dies. Its as simple as that. Panicking is a luxury you really don't have. I came home from college one day to find all four of my mother's horses running around the neighbor's field. I was the only one home. I had to figure out how to get them all back in the stall ..by myself. I realized that if I was able to get the main horse, Starlight, the others would follow. So I got the red bucket that we fed them from, called to the horses, and once Starlight saw her bucket, she thought she was getting fed (which I gave them all a little scoop) and I got them all back in the pen. Could I have panicked? Yes. Would that have solved anything? No. Because you learn to keep your head you work well in emergency situations. In an emergency, you want someone like me, who grew up on a farm, in your foxhole.
  6. You trust your instincts.
    When I was about fifteen, the aforementioned Starlight fell through the swamp that was in the horse pasture in the middle of December. I knew I had to get that horse out and get her as warm as I could. I put a blanket on her and walked her around her stall until my mother came home. I knew nothing about shock or what it looked like, but essentially, I was trying to keep the horse from going into shock.
    Trust what makes sense, don't second guess yourself. Our world constantly tells us we are wrong, what we know isn't correct, that some self-styled expert knows more than we do. Bag it all. You know more than you think you do. Trust yourself.
  7. Hardwork is its own virtue.
    It often takes time to see the end result of your hardwork and sometimes you can do everything right and things still go south or your work goes unnoticed. You can plant a field only to have a year with little rain. You can do everything possible for an animal only to have it die anyway. If you can be proud that you did everything to the best of your ability at the end of the day, that is enough.

  8. Be as self-sufficient as possible but never be afraid to ask for help.Always prepare for that cold day in January. Can, stock, freeze and prep. Do everything you can to make sure that you and your family are prepared for the worse and hope for the best. But, should you need help, or someone needs help from you, always be ready to lend a hand.
  9. When others shy away, stand up.On a farm, there's chores that have to be done, period. No excuses. If you don't do them now, you'll pay for it later. If you stand up and accept your responsibility when something happens, you don't have to deal with it later, it doesn't wear on your mind. Besides, you'll respect yourself more if you deal with a situation head on then shy away from it.
  10. Anyone that views a farmer as a "Local Yokel" has no idea what they are talking about.A farmer has to be a banker, an actuary, a gardener, a vet and a weatherman all at the same time. You have to project into the future as to whether it's profitable to plant a crop and what the rate of success will be in that particular year. You have to balance the books to make sure that your business, farming, doesn't go in the red. You have to make sure your animals are happy and healthy.

    So, next time you see bucolic images about living on a farm or someone indicating that "farming is a state of mind" that we are all "farmgirls at heart", realize that you are being fed a fairytale. Claim where you are, claim what you are and be proud of that. I've been very fortunate to have grown up on my family farm but I didn't always realize that. Bloom where you are planted and when you look back at your upbringing, I'm sure you'll find lots of valuable life lessons that serve you to this day. 






















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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wednesday, October 29, 2014

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Pizza Kit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Quick, finish this jingle....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Open a Jar, of _______ ________ ______,  and open your own, pizzeria..."


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Like many American homes, Friday night is often pizza night at our house. Growing up as a teenager, I remember making a few "Chef Boyardee" box pizza kits. They were fun, a bag of dried flour mix that became the crust, a can of sauce and maybe a small packet of grated Parmesan cheese. This was the making of home pizza when I was growing up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                No offense to the Chef, but with a lot less effort, we can make a lot better end product.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I suppose I make my own "pizza kit" per se. To do this for yourself so you can have a hot and ready pie for pennies, the first step is to grab your breadmaker.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                BTW, I have never bought a breadmaker. If you have, that's great, but what I've usually found with appliances like this is that if you make it known to people that you are looking for one, someone usually has one in an attic or garage that they want to get rid of. It's amazing what you can get for free if you just let people know you are looking for something.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Following whatever bread recipe you may like (This one sounded good: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Pepperoni-Pizza-Bread/Detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=white%20bread%2c%20breadmachine&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page&soid=sr_results_p1i2), put all the ingredients in your breadmachine and set it to dough. Walk away. I usually make 2-4 loaves over the weekend this way. If you are using a plain white dough, I sometimes add garlic, parmesan and/or basil to the mix. Once the dough is finished, grab a freezer storage bag, put in a little flour and seal it being careful to remove as much air as possible. Pop it into your freezer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now the toppings. I can a ridiculous amount of sauce during the canning season. Get one of these down or sans that, grab a small can of tomato paste. Put in a little olive oil, a little garlic, maybe some Italian seasoning and mix.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chop up and veggies and/or your meat.












                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now for the assembly. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. On your pizza pan or stone, put down a small layer of cornmeal or bread crumbs. Roll out your crust. Bake for 12 mins or so. Remove and start assembling your pizza.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Came out a little darker than I
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                wanted but
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                still delicious!












                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You prebake it to provide a sturdy crust for the ingredients to sit upon so that they don't sink into the crust making it mushy.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mmmm cheesy!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lower the oven to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 15-20 mins. Cut as soon as it comes out of the oven and then enjoy. Hot and cheesy!




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You just saved anywhere from $10-20 and made a pizza that everyone will enjoy.