Friday, November 30, 2012

What to do about the Ugly Chairs

Recently I was browsing fabrics online, looking for ideas for the reformation of the set of ugly chairs.  I actually love these old chairs, as they were my grandparents', but I'm not too fond of the pattern of the fabric.  I'm sure they were totally fashionable at the time, and perhaps some people would still love the design, but me.....not so much.
If I was going to choose a new fabric, I'd love to find something still fitting with the style - not too contemporary - but perhaps a little less flashy.  I found several options I thought were excellent on the site.  Like Cafu Gold Green -
Or Casablanca Geo Citrine (which I think is my favorite because it's simple yet elegant) -

Or maybe even Freya Watermelon Chenille -

It's so convenient and fun to look online, avoiding all the crowds right now in the stores.  I don't like to go in the stores again until after the holiday season! also has a wide selection of drapery fabrics and there are many discounted options available.  I found the site easy to navigate, and in particular, I liked that I could change the settings to look at a larger number of fabrics at once.  They currently have a large Premier Prints sale that is running through December 3rd.  Plus, there is a convenient Yardage Chart to help you figure out exactly how much material you would need to order to finish your project. 

While, admittedly, it is not in our budget to reupholster these ear chairs at any time in the near future, it's always fun to dream.  What about you, readers?  Do you have any projects you are dreaming of this winter?

Disclaimer:  I have not purchased anything from the site, so my experience relates only to looking at the website.  I was compensated for this post, but the opinions above are my own. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Winter Garden - Rural Thursday

I suppose it's not technically winter yet, and by the time it is the few items in my garden will be gone.  Besides somehow, it doesn't really feel like fall after Thanksgiving.  All the Christmas items hit the stores and the radio and it feels like winter. 

At any rate, this was the first time I've planted any seeds for fall harvesting.  I planted broccoli and peas, which were doing fabulously until Hurricane Sandy passed through.  Thankfully, a few items I planted did survive the high winds and our recent morning frosts. 
 I harvested this cabbage and did a lima bean cabbage soup in the crockpot, which was delicious.  I have some other cabbages still out there and growing.

 These stubby carrots were roasted with potatoes, olive oil and sea salt, and were a wonderful side dish (and I still have some to pick).

And I have several patches of lettuce growing still.  I'm impressed by how hearty it has proved during the repeated frosts each night.  It is just now starting to look a little worse for the wear. 

I'm pleased that most of the seeds I planted in late July did well.  Next year I'll have to try to plant the peas and broccoli just a little earlier. 

It's Rural Thursday!  Please note that this will be the last Rural Thursday, so I hope that everyone will take the time to link up today with Nancy from A Rural Journal and myself. I have really enjoyed reading your posts over the past months, but want to maximize the time spent with my family during the holiday season.  Huge thanks to Nancy for inviting me to cohost Rural Thursday!  So to participate today, just grab the code beneath the button and paste it into your blog post.  Then come back to add your post to the linky.  Please make sure you comment on at least 5 other blog participants.  I always look forward to visiting and reading what you write! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tulley is back!

Our Elf on the Shelf, Tulley, has returned for the third year in a row.  The boys were very excited to see him.
 Every night, he flies to Santa to report on the boys' behavior.  And each morning he shows up in a new spot in the house.  Unless he forgets to change spots (ahem). 
What about you, readers?  Any fun holiday traditions that return year after year?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Happens When You Throw Out the Halloween Candy

After a few weeks of doling out a couple of pieces of candy each evening to little boys who ate their dinner, I decided it was time to get rid of it all.  Besides, I'd already picked out and consumed the good chocolate myself.
 We let the boys each pick out 3 pieces and then say goodbye to the candy.  And then we realized, that somebody was hoarding! 
All we could do was laugh.  Can you blame him for trying?

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Battle of the Stinkbug with Giveaway!

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that we have battled and battled the stinkbug population the past couple of years.  It's definitely been a losing battle.  We've tried all sorts of remedies and traps but still they descend on our house each Fall and put me in the grumpiest of moods.  This year we tried to be proactive by filling in some small cracks before stinkbug season rolled around, and I do think it helped, but we still have a few that have made their way in.

I have good news, though!  Terro has recently released two Stink Bug Killer sprays.  One comes with a nifty little straw for spraying in those tiny crevices, like all the ones we have in our logs.
 You know what else?  These sprays are also effective on boxelder bugs, asian lady beetles, carpenter ants and a few other pests.  Since we didn't have many stinkbugs in the house right now, I headed down to one place where I knew they were congregating....our tack shed.  Check out my saddle after I took the cover off:
 Even worse?  Look at what I found when I lifted up the flaps to look underneath.  Gah, totally creepy!
 They were in every little saddle crevice!  And I have several saddles.  I knocked all the stinkbugs out, because I didn't want to spray the Terro directly on my saddle leather. Instead, I sprayed the ground where all the nasty little stinkbugs were scrambling about.

Then I sprayed along all the crevices and windows inside our tack shed, and followed up with a good spraying along the outside as well, which you can see below.  You know what's great?  The Terro Stink Bug Killer works for up to 4 months, so any little creepies crawling through it anytime soon will be a sorry little creepies!
If you want to learn more about Terro products, you can check them out on Twitter and Facebook.  And if you'd like to put Terro Stink Bug Killer to work at your own place, you can enter my Rafflecopter giveaway, below!

Disclaimer:  I received the above pictured two products for review purposes.  The opinions stated above are my own.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Day of French Cooking

Last week I was pulled into the beautiful book My Life in France by Julia Child.  It was so much more than I expected, and I fell in love with her story, her writing, her determination, and her foods.  When I was in high school, I took 4 years of French, and in college I followed it up with another 4 semesters of the language.  And yet not only have I never been to France, but I've never even been to a French restaurant.  It's just too expensive for either to be practical.  So I decided to try my hand at French cooking at home. 

Thrilled with the idea of the daunting task of French cooking, I perused recipes on the internet.  I finally decided on a menu of salade verde with Humboldt Fog (aged goat cheese) and walnuts in a lemon vinaigrette, estouffade provencale, a slow cooking beef stew with slices of French baguette on the side, and gateau nantais which is a rum cake from the Northwestern region of France. 

All of the ingredients I had on hand except for the cheese, the baguette, the nicoise olives and fennel that go in the stew, and the rum.  The salad greens and veggies were even fresh from my fall garden!  So overall it wasn't too costly to prepare the meal - definitely much cheaper than a French restaurant.  Maybe one day I'll get to eat at one, or even get to travel to France, but for one evening, it was fun to pretend. 

The foods took time to prepare, but were divine in their assortment of flavors.  It was fun to put on French music, drink wine, and enjoy several courses at dinner.  The food was so rich that I was stuffed for hours afterwards, even though I had small servings. 
How about you, readers?  Is there any type of food that you've always wanted to try?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your bellies be full and your hearts be warm today.  Happy Thanksgiving!
From Reid, Cort, and Harry Potter! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Antietam Battlefield

Although I had run walked all through the Antietam Battlefield during my marathon, I wanted to return to share the experience with my boys and walk through the visitor's center.  This is the Burnside Bridge:
 See the rock wall?  The Confederate soldiers crouched behind it, perching their rifles over the edge as they fought to maintain control over this bridge.
 So many died (500 casualties) behind the wall that they pulled planks off the bridge to use as grave markers, and buried them in the ground until they could be moved later.

When we were in the visitor's center, we saw a painting of the battle here at the bridge.  This tree, a sycamore, was called the witness tree.  Back then, it was just a young wisp of a tree.  Today, it is massive.  I'm sure it enjoys it's more peaceful days in the present, rather than reflecting on the past.  I couldn't help but wonder if there are any bullets still lodged deep in its bark.

Statues of soldiers tower over the battlefield as you drive (or run) through. 

This is the Dunkard Church, which was a reference point for soldiers during the Civil War.  At the day's end, it was used temporarily as a medical aid station.

On this day, we found reenactors set up around the church.

Inside, I was intrigued by various medical tools and bottles.

I confess that I totally have a thing for apothecary jars.

The boys learn from a soldier about how medicines were made during Civil War times.

I think some of the reenactors actually camped out over the weekend.

Ringing the bell, before hopping in the car for our journey home.

We learned that the Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest single day of battle in American history.  Over 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or went missing. 
Talk about a profound event in American history.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

He's Not Wasting Any Time...

Are you ready for this?

Translation in case you can't read his handwriting:  Dear Santa, I am going to teil you what i want for Christmas.  I want first aid kit stuff except bandaids and gloves.  And I want a pretend computer to.  And I want some books. And i want a pretend kichin to. And i want a Harry Potter double decker bus to.  And i want a pretend camera to.  And that is all.  I have been nice. Love Pierce.

Soooo...we've already had the conversation that Santa doesn't bring everything you want.  I think in this case with our very limited budget, he's going to bring some first aid kit supplies (Pierce already has plenty of bandaids and gloves, which is why he didn't want those) and the Lego Harry Potter purple triple decker bus.  But I can say that Pierce HAS been nice ;-)

How about you, readers?  Are your kids and grandkids writing to Santa already?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Getting Burned

Recently Paul lit up the woodstove for the first time since last year.  Previously, we'd always had a fence around it, but the twins are older now and we hadn't put it up.  Paul told the boys it would be hot, and then fired it up.  Not ten minutes later, Reid was walking by on his way to the table, and put his hand out to touch the stove.  He got burned.  And it looked bad.

I felt terrible as I ran his hand under the cold water, and he screamed and sobbed, huge tears swiftly tumbling down his cheeks.  Paul and I snapped at one another in our worry over what to do.  I ended up spraying it with Dermablast, applying triple antibiotic ointment, and bandaging it before calling the doctor for an appointment.  Luckily, they had appointments available that Saturday morning.  I held a shaky Reid on the couch while we watched Caillou and bided our time until the appointment.

At the doctor's office, the nurses applauded our treatment of the burn.  They applied some special burn cream (which would alleviate pain and prevent infection) before rebandaging it.  We were prescribed some of the special cream, and told to keep the burn bandaged for a week.  The key thing at this point was to prevent infection. 

Do you think a 3 year old likes to keep a bandage on for a week?  Not so much.  So I drew a cat on Reid's bandage every single day (his request) so that he would leave it on.

Below is a picture of the burn.  If you don't like graphic pictures, you might not want to scroll down any further.  You can see why I was so horrified after it first happened - you know how painful it must have been! 
Around the 4th day, the blister finally popped, and then Reid's hand was able to start draining.  Of course, once it popped it was more painful to him.  But thankfully he seems to be healing up well.  And while I seem to still be filled with Mom-guilt over the incident, slowly as he heals I am recovering too.  These accidents just seem to happen sometimes, regardless of how hard we try to protect our children.  I'm not the only one who felt horrible over what happened.  Pierce came home from school with this picture in his folder:
It's a picture of Reid by the woodstove, with a bandage on his hand.  On the back it says,
Reid hert his hand and has a blistr.  It hrtes rily bad. I got my frst day (aka first aid) kit.  Mom got her frst day kit.  Mom put a banddage on him.  His blistr is big.  Mom put medesin on it.

And every day Cort and Pierce both say, "Reid, is your owie hand feeling better?"  Nice to see some brotherly concern, in the midst of the daily squabbles.  I sure hope that's the last burn incident that we have in this family! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wineberry Jam Brownies Recipe

Last summer I canned a bunch of the wineberries that grow wild on our land into a couple of batches of jam.  We recently had some new neighbors move in, so I decided to make them some brownies, using my jam.

1 cup butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup wineberry jam (if you don't have wineberry, you may substitute raspberry)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour

Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over low heat.  Cool.  Beat eggs, sugar, jam, vanilla and salt.  Pour in chocolate mixture.  Add flour.  Mix until smooth.  Pour in 9x13 pan and bake at 350* for 25 minutes.  Cool and drizzle with Wilton cookie icing in pink.  Cut into bars.

I don't know about you, but I'd be plenty pleased to find these on my doorstep!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Snowman Birdhouse Gourd Tutorial - Rural Thursday

If you remember, I did a lot of complaining last summer about how none of my veggies in the garden were surviving the squash bugs except the birdhouse gourds (which have a sort of stinky odor when they are growing, so it's no wonder the squash bugs ignored them).  Well, my gourds have dried out and it was finally time to do something with them.  I studied the shape and thought.  And it seemed that it would be the perfect shape for a snowman. 

I used a mini Playdoh container to trace the birdhouse door, and carved it with a knife.  Then I shook out the seeds.

I took the gourd outside and applied several coats of white primer, waiting for each coat to dry in between.

Then I used some small wooden pieces I found in my craft drawer and painted them to make buttons, eyes, and a carrot nose.  I found some plaid fleece material and cut it into a scarf.  I broke twigs off the pine tree outside for arms.  My final step was to screw in an eye hook.  I used hot glue to secure it for hanging.

I thought it turned out adorably!  Maybe those birdhouse gourds aren't so useless after all.  I am hoping to make a few more to use as gifts during the holiday season.  I do need to figure out a varnish to protect the paint, since they will be outside in the elements. 

It's Rural Thursday!  Time to link up with Nancy from A Rural Journal and myself with your stories and pictures of the rural life.  Copy the code beneath the button and paste it into your blog post.  Then come back and add your post to the linky below.  Please make sure you visit the blogs of at least 5 other participants, and leave them a comment.  Also, next week due to Thanksgiving, we will not be hosting a link up for Rural Thursday.  So we'll see you again on November 29th! 

What about you, readers?  Have you started any holiday themed crafts this year?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meet Jubal

A couple of weeks ago, Pierce turned six.  SIX.  How do these things happen so quickly?  Anyhow, he had a splendid get together with family which included a highly desired "Mario cake". 

What does a 6 year old little boy want for his birthday?  Well Pierce wanted Lego sets, a light saber, an ice cream maker, a Harry Potter magic wand, and Vibram barefoot running shoes.  Thanks to generous family, he either received or was able to purchase all of these items with birthday money!  And what did he want from Paul and I?  A hamster.  He's been begging for a hamster since last summer!  I thought maybe he'd forget about it by now, but nope.  He named her Jubal.

I have to confess - that furry, fat little body.  Those perky and curious little ears.  We're all just a little smitten by this cute creature.

Including this guy.  I see you Baxter.  Don't even think about it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An Early Christmas Gift for My Boys

You all are going to think I'm really obnoxious, but I've pretty much finished my Christmas shopping.  In fact, I've already shipped several packages to family out of state, with their wrapped gifts.  I like to do things early.  I'm early for everything.  Do you know what else I like to do?  I like to give holiday themed gifts with notes for people to open them on December 1st.

I blame my Mom.  When I was 12 years old, she handed me a wrapped box just after Thanksgiving, and told me to open it.  I got to open a gift early?!?  What was this?  I opened it to find a beautiful glass nativity - one I still have today (although I haven't displayed it in 6 years, because of the boys).  I was able to enjoy the new nativity all through the holiday season, and for many years since.  I always remember this, and try to pass this joy on to at least one person each Christmas, with a little note for them to open the gift early.  This year both my sister-in-law and my nephew have 'open-early' gifts.  I hope they will enjoy them.

If you're looking for a gift for a child that would be perfect for opening early, I have a suggestion!  VeggieTales has released The Ultimate Christmas Collection on DVD.  It's a Veggie Christmas marathon!  The collection includes It's a Meaningful Life, Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving, The Star of Christmas, The Little Drummer Boy, The Toy that Saved Christmas, and Christmas Singalong Songs.  Plus, it includes a 25 favorite Christmas songs cd! 

 Yes, Cort and Reid are wearing costumes, while watching their Veggies Tales Christmas Collection.  Somehow, it makes it even more fun!
Their favorite?  The Toy that Saved Christmas.  This particular episode teaches that Christmas isn't about getting - it's about giving!  As with all of the Veggie Tales movies, I love that it portrays kindness of character and small moral lessons with each episode, in simple ways that even small children can understand. 

So if you're looking for a special gift for a little one that he or she can enjoy throughout the holiday season, be sure to look for the VeggieTales Ultimate Christmas Collection!  It has been very popular with my boys, who love the catchy songs and the humorous vegetables.  I know they'll enjoy watching it all the way through the Christmas season.

Disclaimer:  I was sent the VeggieTales Ultimate Christmas Collection on DVD for review purposes.  The opinions stated above are my own.

Monday, November 12, 2012

October Fitness Recap 2012

I'm ridiculously late doing my fitness recap for October.  Mostly because it's grim, since I've been injured.  Yes, I ran a marathon in October, but that's practically all I did.

I took a week off after the race, patiently waiting for my leg to heal, but after a week I was done resting.  I wanted to run again.  Unfortunately, my leg has not been having it.  I wallowed and grieved the loss of my daily running.  I didn't want to crosstrain.  I didn't want to do anything except run.

After a while, though, even the grieving gets old, and it is time to move on.  And so, every few days I try to test out my leg to see where I am.  As it stubbornly continues to groan and moan over anything resembling a run, I am starting to do workout dvds instead.  Sadly, I didn't do many of these in October.  So we'll just call October the big lazy month, and hopefully everything will be more intensive from here on out.

Miles run - 49
Jillian workout dvds - 2x

Incidentally, I've started doing Shred quite a bit in November, and the boys LOVE it.  It certainly goes by much faster watching the boys have such a great time.

I hope that my leg starts healing soon.  I miss running.  Working out to dvds is like eating canned biscuits - it just can't compare if you've had the real thing. 

How do you deal with disappointments, reader?  Do you allow yourself a few days to wallow before picking yourself up and moving on?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mia Mariu Mineral Makeup Review and Giveaway

It's kind of ironic that when I was younger and had that youthful complexion I spent more time thinking about high quality makeup, and since I worked full time, it was rare that I left the house without it.  Now, with three boys and living on such a small budget, makeup has kind of been on the back burner for me, but I definitely need it more now than I ever did when I wore it daily. 

I was so excited when I was approved to do a review and giveaway of the Mia Mariu products.  They have so many beautiful choices in makeup and skincare that I had a very difficult time in choosing.  Because of sun spots on my face, I felt like I needed a concealer most of all, and I decided to try the Mineral Cream Concealer in Miel.  I love how lightweight and long-lasting it is, and it doesn't take much to even out the tone of my skin. 

I also ordered the hydrating stick gloss in Caricia.  I was pleasantly surprised by how silky and smooth it feels upon application - and it doesn't dry out my lips like other products often do.  This color is more pink than I expected, but I love soft look it creates.  The final product I chose is the Mineral Eye Shadow in Rosa Marquesa.  I like that the shadow doesn't seem to fade throughout the day - it stays put.  The color seems very natural to me, and the best part?  It doesn't irritate my sensitive eyes or bother my contact lenses. 

Below you can see the before and after pictures.  The only product I used besides the Mia Mariu products pictured above was a little mascara.  The look itself came together so quickly - it only took me about 3 minutes! I did use my own eye shadow brushes instead of the ones provided.  Mia Mariu offers a wide assortment of makeup brushes as well.
Can you believe the difference in my skin?  I don't look all washed out anymore - and I love how it doesn't feel like I'm even wearing makeup.  These products are truly high performance, and I felt fantastic wearing them.  Not only that, but they are so easy to use (and haven't broken out my skin like some products do) that I can certainly see myself using these on a daily basis, especially since the colors I chose create such a natural look. 

Now the best news?  One lucky winner will win one of each of the products above!  Not only that - but the winner gets her choice of colors as well!  If you'd like a chance to win, just enter through the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Antietam National Cemetery - Rural Thursday

Before we drove home from Harpers Ferry, we knew we wanted to go visit Antietam.  We decided to walk through the cemetery first.

It's really very impressive.

By this sign, there is a registry, in case you are trying to locate a relative.

One of my great great great grandfathers fought in the Civil War.

According to records, he survived the war, although my Mom says he was wounded at one point.

 4,776 Union soldiers are resting at this cemetery.

The Private Soldier Monument really towers over the cemetery, standing watch, day after day.

Several of the grave stones in the Michigan section bore flags.

And a great number of the stones were marked unknown.

The view, over the battlefield, from the back of the cemetery.

Our walk back towards the car.

A solemn experience.  
We were fortunate enough to have the cemetery entirely to ourselves this day, but even the boys seemed a bit awestruck by the visit.

It's Rural Thursday!  Time to link up with Nancy from A Rural Journal and  myself with your stories and pictures from the rural life.  Just grab the code beneath the button, and paste it into your blog.  Then come back and add your website to the linky.  Please be sure to visit and comment on the blogs of at least 5 other participants.  Have a great Thursday!