Cannin’ and such – The end of summer 2021

Here is a short list of things I don’t like:

  • Humidity
  • Oppressive heat
  • No rain
  • Wasps
  • Fleas
  • Stinkbugs in the garden
  • A summer cold

And here is a short list of things that always happen during Texas summers:

  • Humidity
  • Oppressive heat
  • No rain
  • Wasps
  • Fleas
  • Stinkbugs in the garden
  • A summer cold

At least I can say that summer 2021 DID have more rain, at least through early July. Plus, we didn’t have but a few days of 100+ degrees.

I was not inspired this year to do much in the garden. Last year, I grew stuff like there was no tomorrow (and frankly, who knew?). But this year was the summer of B.L.A.H. (Being Lazy And (probably) Hormones (because frankly, when do they NOT rule our lives?).

Even so, I did get some things accomplished.

I planted enough cucumbers to make almost a years’ worth of pickles. I made a few “spicy” jars this year.

We grew some apples! You don’t hear about Texas apples, do ya? But it can be done! Despite me running over the tree two years ago on the UTV, our tree survived!

Our muscadines produced really well, due to all of the rain we got this year. I still had about 21 pints of grape jelly from 2020, so I couldn’t figure out what do. Then, it hit me: JUICE. Who doesn’t love grape juice? Well, duh. So if you are into making jelly or juices the ONLY way to fly is to get a steam juicer. Throw the fruit in, add water to the bottom pot, heat, and POOF! You get beautiful juice that can be canned as is, or made into beautiful jellies. Don’t even touch the fruit on top; don’t squeeze it with a spatula or you get ugly jelly, like I did in 2020. It puts sediment into your juice and makes it cloudy.

This picture is when I was juicing “Carlos” bronze muscadines. They are amazingly sweet and remind me of those expensive “cotton candy” grapes.

On the left is the finished juice of the “Carlos” grape, and on the right is the finished jelly of “Noble” – a purple muscadine. See how clear the juice/jelly is? So easy with the steam canner. Worth every cent. (Mine is no longer available on Amazon. As of 9/23/21, they have a Roots & Branches brand for $69 that looks nice! It’s one quart smaller in capacity than what I have, but I paid over $125 for mine, thanks to the 2020 canning frenzy)

And in the Weird files, which, admittedly, are very thick over here on the farm, I had a mystery squash come up in my orchard along the fenceline. It grew all over my grapes and I just left it to see. Well…it was a spaghetti squash! What the heck! I could have planted a million of those seeds and probably never grew a vine as nice as this one. I think we got 6 squash from it and they are delicious. So I think I’ll plant some sketti squash next to my grapes on down the fence next spring. Why not? A little cabbage worm ate off some of the skin, which is what you see here, but it didn’t hurt the squash at all.

So maybe it wasn’t my most productive summer ever; oh well. Now I’m just ready for the rains to come to break the official spell of dryness that always hits us in September. Meanwhile, the insane amount of seedlings I have started for our fall garden are sprouting and growing. I have promised them that I’ll not fail them when it comes time to get them in the ground.

Goodbye, summer of B.L.A.H.! Here’s to a productive fall!

Confessions of a Carb Queen Foodie

It’s no secret: I LOVE FOOD.

Since 2019, I have been on a quest to merge my love of food with my obsession over “natural remedies”. It all came about when I went on a vacation and wasn’t blown away with my reflection in the local storefront windows. I also wasn’t exactly elated with the numbers I was seeing on the scale or my body measurements, which were the highest I’d ever had, with exception to the times when I was pregnant.

To condense my long story, I had tried keto the year before for a little while. I’d gone down 11 pounds, but I swore if I ate another slice of bacon, chunk of cheese, or a low-carb vegetable, I was going to stab someone in the eye with a celery stick. Previous to THAT, I’d tried a low-calorie diet. That was an absolute disaster. I would dream of food. I’d watch the clock to see when I could eat again. I remember sitting on my front porch in a daze, wondering about how many calories were in a rice cake. My God.


So starting in the fall of 2019, I started logging my calories, just to see how many I was consuming in a day. I do SO love a good science experiment, so why not try one on myself? I discovered quickly that a big part of my problem was eating calorie-dense, but not-so-filling-nor-nutritious foods like chips, crackers, and dips. As I cut these foods out, my weight started dropping slowly but surely. I discovered that I actually lost more weight when I ate more calories from healthy foods. I also decided to not do any extensive exercise to see how large a role diet played in weight loss. I lost several pounds and then somewhere in the late spring of 2020, that loss came to a halt. In late August of 2020, I got sick and decided with everything going on at the time, it was high time to get absolutely serious with my health. It was at this point that I chose to go the whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) route.

There are several reasons I chose this way to eat. First of all, I had already gotten to the point where eating most meats made me feel physically bad/gross. There were definitely repercussions to having any kind of pork or beef. I’ll spare you the details. Dairy products also fell into that same category. Secondly, I love carbs. I love rice, beans, peas, potatoes, oatmeal, lentils…and I’ll be danged if I wasn’t going to eat them. Last of all, the way I eat has to be sustainable. I am not going to stick to anything restrictive. I am not going to take supplements. I’m not going to group meetings or taking a pill or constantly doing food logs. Ain’t happenin’. The whole point of WFPB is very simple: Eat more plants, and eat those plants in their natural form. In other words, not in the form of pre-packaged and highly processed veggie burgers or veggie chips, etc. The second thing about WFPB is: Eat less fat. This means using very little to no oil in the foods you prepare. Oil is 100% fat and you’d be shocked at what it is added to (just about every processed food you can imagine) and how many needless calories it adds. You’d likely also be very surprised at how most oils are made.

When I made this change last September, that’s when the weight came flying off. I was stunned, really. I got to a weight I had never even imagined possible and one I’d never seen as an adult. In all, from fall 2019 to January of 2021, I lost 26 pounds. It’s true that I didn’t have a lot to lose, but I also had no idea that I was carrying around this much “extra me”. If you like hearing about big weight loss numbers, though, my husband was at his highest weight in 2019, and is currently down 76 pounds! But the fastest part of his weight loss was when he started the low/no-oil WFPB way of eating. At that point, he began losing at an average of 1.5 pounds a week and continued that for 25 weeks! Even more amazing was that his sleep apnea and night sweats disappeared, AND his fasting blood glucose lowered by 60 points. Yes, SIXTY points. He also likes to utilize intermittent fasting to his routine. It is a tool that works well for him.

So where are we today, in July 2021? As all people do, we “fell off the wagon” a little this spring, went on vacation, and let some ‘snacky things’ back in the house. Which of course, went straight to my butt. That’s okay because we’re back on the wagon again. I am within 4 pounds of my lowest weight, and my measurements are only up a half of an inch. Everyone else in the house still looks great, and more importantly, FEELS great. Goodbye to insomnia, digestive troubles, achy joints, migraines, and the like! And don’t come back!

When we tell people we eat a diet full of vegetables, people always, always, always assume we eat nothing but salads. Now I love a good salad, but come on. I can’t imagine sitting around eating nothing but a salad all day. Here are just a few of our favorite meals we’ve eaten in the last few months and all are WFPB:

Tomatoes & Okra with rice:

Rainbow Stir-fry:

Getting ready for Rainbow Taco night!

“Not Fried” Rice, with pineapple and cashews:

“Cheezy” noodles

Roasted veggies, Christmas-style!:

Black-eyed pea and cabbage soup:

Roasted veg and toasted bread with “cheez” sauce:

Crispy black bean burger:

Stir-fry veg and rice noodles:

Fully loaded nachos:

I’m sure my family is so tired of hearing me say this, but EAT A RAINBOW every day! I promise you will feel so much better and you’ll see changes that you won’t even believe!

One last thing about carbs specifically…if you are a carb queen (or king) and you want to get some carby validation, check out Dr. John McDougall’s book, The Starch Solution. Don’t vilify complex carbs! Processed (AKA crap) carbs are the ones to avoid. Don’t throw out the beans with the bathwater!

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

My migraines were a blessing

It’s true.

Granted, they were a blessing in disguise (like a really BIG disguise), but they were the beginning of a huge, positive, life-changing path for me and my family.

I was the kind of person who never got headaches. Like, ever ever. All of that changed in my early 30s when I started getting annoying headaches on the right side of my face. At first, they weren’t too bad. At first, I could take two ibuprofen with a coffee chaser and in 15 minutes, I could feel the headache melt away like magic. Cool, I thought…I have this figured out.

Only, I didn’t.

The headaches worsened in time. They felt like the right side of my face was in a vise. My right eye watered and the right side of my nose ran like a water faucet. While I never saw an aura, I was very sensitive to light and had to be in a dark room. Noises of any variety annoyed me to no end. Smells sickened me. Nausea set in and then some vertigo. Nothing helped; lying down made the vertigo worse, but it was also hell to try and move around. The headache day was bad enough, but it also took 2-3 days to fully recover. I was in a daze when I wasn’t in pain. This is called the “postdrome phase”. It’s a feeling of being “washed out” and drained.

A recent entry in my headache log…Lasted two days and I had consumed some dairy the day it began.

Up until this point, I had done only a little bit of research and read that low progesterone and a lack of magnesium may play a part in migraines. More research revealed other common triggers that I knew I was consuming/experiencing. The headaches started coming once a month and typically within a few days of my period, so I figured that my hormones had to play a part. I remember one day quite vividly when I discovered one of my biggest triggers. We had been swimming at the lake and had ordered pepperoni pizza. Within 30 minutes of eating the pizza, I felt “the twinge”. If you have migraines, you may know what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling on the side of your face that tells you, “Hey, get ready cause you’re having a full-blown hellacious headache in 24 hours or less.” Sure enough, I had a horrible one over the next couple of days. As I was recovering, I read about sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, which are common food preservatives in processed meats, and how they play a big role in causing migraines. One article even said that migraines are so common after eating hot dogs that they call them “hot dog headaches”.

Well, as you can imagine, I was excited about this discovery, yet at the same time, floored that this was the first time I had ever heard about it. Shouldn’t it be common knowledge, since almost half of women will experience migraines at some point in their lives?

When the migraines started coming every two weeks and were worse in intensity than ever, I went to my doctor and had some bloodwork done. Everything that was tested came back normal. At that time, I had also experienced “ocular migraines”, which, for me, meant loss of sight in my peripheral vision. Talk about freaky! At my appointment, the doctor asked if I wanted to start taking medicine, but I hate taking medicine. I wanted to find and treat the cause of the problem, not the symptom. I had to know, because that’s the kind of person I am. I HAVE TO KNOW.

I decided it was time to get serious and figure out what was happening. The first thing I did was order a book: “Heal Your Headache: The 1.2.3 Program For Taking Charge Of Your Pain” by David Buchholz, M.D. (See below)

This is where the healing began! I’ll try to summarize for you, but BUY THIS BOOK if you are a migraine sufferer! So, basically, everyone’s “triggers” for having a migraine will vary. A trigger is something that can lead up to a headache for you. It can be hormones, barometric pressure, a certain scent, food additives, certain foods, stress, etc. Everyone also has a certain threshold that, once you have so many triggers present, will cause you to have a migraine. The whole concept of the book is to reduce your exposure to triggers when possible, and to try and not cross that threshold. I will tell you right now, that if you are eating the Standard American Diet, you ain’t gonna like the elimination diet in this book. Ha! If you like caffeine, alcohol, and dairy….well….but don’t go away! Keep on reading.

So I started by eliminating my known triggers, which were sodium nitrate/nitrite, alcohol, MSG, yogurt, and yeast extract/autolyzed yeast extract (which is in SOOOOO many processed foods!). The intensity of my pain lessened, but I still had the migraines. As I read further in the book, it was said that caffeine is a major trigger for many people. I was only a one to two cup of coffee a day person, so I thought that surely he wasn’t talking about people like me, right??? I slowly decreased the amount of coffee I was drinking and then only drank it every other day for a week. I quit cold turkey on a Tuesday. I remember it was a Tuesday because I missed work from Wednesday through Friday that week! I was SO SICK. I couldn’t believe that such a tiny amount of caffeine had such a death grip on my system! I decided right then and there that I would never allow anything to have such a hold on my body, ever again.

After I finally detoxed from caffeine the week after I quit, it was the beginning of the end for my headaches. The intensity was greatly lessened. I decided to go all out and do the elimination diet in the book. This means no dairy, no nuts, no caffeine, no alcohol, no chocolate (GASP), no fresh yeast-risen breads (ACK), no vinegar, no processed meats, avoiding certain vegetables/legumes/fruits, among other things. Don’t quit on me, y’all! I know!!! It was tough! I thought, this better be worth it!

AND IT WAS. For a glorious…wondrous…miraculous two full months, I had no headaches! None at all! I had been having the headaches for a few years at that point (fall of 2018), and they were at least once a month. I was so, so happy. Because I am hard headed (and dumb, I guess), I did add some foods back into my diet that I know are triggers, like nuts. However, the migraines I get now are what I call “manageable migraines“. I can work out in the yard, hang with the family, get some sleep, and get on with life, even though I am in migraine mode. It’s there, I can feel it, but it’s tiny. Just annoying, and only about a 1-2 on the pain scale of 1-10. I pop some ibuprofen every 4 hours a few times, and I’m good to go. I have recently started eating fewer nuts and have noticed that my pain is lessened.

For example, over the weekend, due to stress/hormones, I got the “twinge” on a Friday before a huge event. “Lord, PLEASE let me get through this and be in a functioning state”, I begged. How is it that your body just seems to know when you need to be clear-headed, and it throws you a curve ball? But everything went great. I think I only took ibuprofen twice, I got lots of great sleep, and any pain I did have fizzled away overnight. Such an enormous change from the days when I had to lie in bed in a silent, spinning, blackened room with an ice pack over my face, with snot and tears pouring out of me, while I felt like barfing up my toenails!

So, for those of you out there suffering from that personal hell they call a migraine, here’s what I have to say:

  • First of all, you MUST be your own advocate. No one knows your body like you do. Listen to what your body is telling you! Don’t be afraid to take control of your health. Find a doctor that will listen to your concerns.
  • Buy the book and give the suggestions an honest try, including the elimination diet. It’s simple, but not necessarily easy. Let’s face it though, when you get to the point where you’ll do just about anything to get rid of migraines, it’s 100% worth it if it works for you!
  • Keep a journal/calendar that documents your headaches. I did this for years (and still do), and it helped me to find my triggers. Foods that could possibly cause migraines may take up to 72 hours to affect you, so having a food journal is very helpful also. I record intensity, duration of the migraine, and possible causes.
  • When you start the elimination diet, READ THE LABEL OF EVERYTHING YOU CONSUME. I even asked restaurant waitstaff to show me labels from salad dressings that they used, just to be safe. MSG and yeast extract is in just about everything. Ranch dressing, seasonings, broth, cream soups, flavored chips, flavored anything at all. Eating out and eating at other people’s houses may get extremely difficult for you, but you’ll adapt, I promise. I always know a baked potato is a safe bet! Ha. I’ll go ahead and plug my current obsession/love, which is a whole foods, plant based diet. Again, it’s simple, but not easy. At least not at first. Since you won’t be eating processed foods much, you will be automatically eliminating all those yucky additives that can cause migraines.

As I was writing this post, I came across a blog called The Dizzy Cook. She, too, found healing through research, doctor’s visits, and Dr. Buchholz’s book. Check out her story here. I didn’t even know that vestibular migraines were a thing! She doesn’t have headaches, but instead had intense bouts of dizziness.

Last of all, you have my complete sympathy. Migraines are scary, painful, and will make you think you are losing your mind. You are definitely NOT alone in this! If anyone gives you a hard time about having a migraine, it’s obvious that they have never had one. I hope that something here will lead to healing for you. May you soon be migraine free!

Desperately Seeking Simplicity

***Another post I wrote in 2019 and didn’t publish! I look back at those busy days and I want to stick my finger down my throat. I was running on a hamster wheel and I clearly remember the Mom and Me weekend…it was terrible. I was so tired, I couldn’t even think straight. That was five years ago now, and it was a wake up call for me. Since that time, I’ve lost more weight (got very serious about our health), I have decluttered more, and I do not make commitments to things that I don’t care about. “No” is the most powerful word! ~A ***

Three years ago, I was part of two MLM sales companies, planning a class reunion, homeschooling the kids, and up to my eyeballs in unfinished projects and events. The weekend after our reunion, I had a “Mom and Me” retreat with my youngest followed by an MLM sale event, and I was on the verge of tears the entire time. I was EXHAUSTED. I felt bad that I couldn’t enjoy the weekend that SHOULD have been fun.

I swore to myself that after that weekend, I was D-O-N-E with commitments outside the home for an entire year. I practiced saying “NO”. Over the next several months, I cleared up my calendar to only celebrate holidays with family. I quit the MLMs. I started picking up old projects that had sat around, neglected and collecting dust bunnies, and began finishing them one by one. I got rid of crafts that no longer suited me.

That one year experiment turned into two. I still felt tired.

Then this year, I went on a decluttering kick. While my calendar was pretty empty, my house was not. Things…things…THINGS in every drawer, cabinet, countertop. Things I never used, things that I no longer liked, things that were just there to take up space. One afternoon, I had the house all to myself and did something I never, ever do: I flipped on the TV and started scrolling Netflix. One of the shows that came up was Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Now hold on…stay with me. I know not everyone agrees with her methods.

I had read The Magic of Tidying Up some years ago, but never really implemented it. So I start watching this show, and immediately I thought, “This is the most adorable person I may have ever seen.” When you read her first book, you might feel like I did; the book just seems a bit “preachy” to me. But when I saw her on the show, it changed something for me. She just seems very happy-go-lucky and so friendly. Therefore, I bought her book and re-read it. Then I got her second book, “Spark Joy”, and read that as well. I began joining minimalist groups on Facebook for inspiration, and I re-read Joshua Becker’s book, “The More of Less”.

One afternoon, I was outside in the garden. I was removing old spent flowers and plants whose time had come and gone. When I was done, I took a look around and I noticed how pretty everything looked, now that the distraction of the dead plants were gone. It was an ephiphany: Remove what you don’t love, so that you can focus on what you DO love. Where had I heard that before? Well:

Yes! So I immediately went and made a list. What did I love? I love my family, my homesteading experiments, gardening, chickens, crafting, visiting friends, good food…and how much of this was I participating in at that moment? Not much. Most had been put on the back burner for far, far too long. What I thought was important simply wasn’t. I was doing things that kept me from doing what I truly loved. So it was with my household. I had it arranged in such a way that all the STUFF was a major distraction.

In addition, I asked myself where I wanted to be in ten years. That question led to several actions: I did a real, honest-to-God declutter of the house (still ongoing), I lost eight pounds (and still going), we got very serious on becoming debt-free, we reduced the number of pets we owned, and I got all gung-ho on gardening and doing my “homesteady” things again. I can honestly say that this has been such a great experiment. It’s like everything is finally coming together…that’s the best way I can explain it.

So I guess that the entire point of this post is this: If you are exhausted beyond belief and feel like you are running on a hamster wheel to nowhere, maybe it’s time for a life audit. What do you enjoy the most? Where do you want to be in a year, or five, or ten? If you want a simplified (sane) life, I highly suggest researching minimalism. It isn’t a bare house with modern furniture and clear counters. Far from it! I have found that it is just life simplified.

End note, 2021: I would highly suggest going here if you are thinking of joining, or are currently in, an MLM:

I also suggest the Reddit group: r/antiMLM :

This may come across as harsh, but I’ve been a part of a lot of MLMs and they essentially are all the same, with slightly different twists. Your income increases with recruitment (gag), and then if you meet their requirements, you will level up, anddddd then you are saddled with training in addition to maintaining your own sales each month. And so on and so forth. I remember hearing from “successful” women at conferences who were in the top tiers and their lives were pretty much 100% centered on the MLM. No thanks.

No shame if you are in an MLM right now; I just beg you to do your due diligence and run a brutally honest profit and loss, INCLUDING your time spent. Again, the resources above shine a light on the truth behind MLMs.

Happy 2019!

***May 2021: Well, well, it looks like I did write some posts since 2018! These were lost in the depths of the Draft section, so what the heck…I’m publishing them! I loved the Katie Daisy planner. As it is in 2021, I have a Katie Daisy calendar right by my desk and it makes me happy every time I look at it. In 2020, I went with another small planner; I believe it was another 6 x 8 size. I just picked it up at Wal-Mart. It was a monthly/weekly number and I think it was by Blue Sky. For 2021, I went BIG. It’s an 8 x 10 I found at Wal-Mart by Day Designer. Again, it has a monthly spread and then weekly with lots of room to write in each day. It’s a little too big, really. I would rather go back to a smaller, purse-friendly size. So do you use a planner? Leave me a comment about what you use and why you love it.

It’s the day before the new year and I am admittedly tired. I have been chair surfing all morning and finally just got out of my PJs at the crack of 1pm. As I contemplate the new year, I’m thinking of things that I want to accomplish. Not just written-down, then-shoved-to-the-back-of-a-drawer-and-forgotten things, but real goals that need tackling.

First things first, I invested in a new planner. I call this my paper brain. Google calendar is lovely but I don’t care to solely rely on digital things since they can die at any given second; just like my phone did last year. I also enjoy writing and doodling…a lot! It’s fun to go back and see what happened in a year’s time.

Last year’s planner was an Orange Circle Studio planner that I picked up at TJ Maxx.

My 2018 planner

It was a monthly planner and it was the first time in years I had gone that route rather than a weekly one. I was tired of all the extra “fluff” and wanted to get back to a month on every two page spread.

For 2019, it took me MONTHS to decide between planners (hey, it’s a big commitment!) and it was down to two: the Hobonichi Techo daily and a Katie Daisy weekly. I love the simplicity of the Techo, but as a daily calendar, I thought it would just be too much. The other factor was price. The Techo is over fifty dollars and the Katie Daisy was around ten. I finally went with Katie because the artwork is just amazing. Every page is full of nature paintings, including moths, trees, birds, and even snakes.

So I decided to use the new planner as a journal as well since it is a weekly version. Just a sentence or two about what I did that day and a note about the weather. The size is perfect because it goes right into my purse but it’s not so small that I can’t write in it comfortably.

Do you use a paper planner or a digital one? Or any at all? I don’t have a great memory, especially short-term. I’d forget my head off it weren’t screwed on.

My Little Country, back again

I’m embarrassed to say, it’s been almost three years since I have posted. I started this blog as a journal (of sorts) when we moved to the country thirteen years ago. Sometimes I think, man, I started this thing just 2 years after Ree Drummond started her own blog…what if I had gotten famous too, and had my face plastered on kitchenware/house decor/home appliances in every Wal-Mart from here to the moon? But the truth is, I enjoy my obscurity and also, posting 15+ pictures for each recipe I make was never my thing. Life under my little mossy rock is just fine with me.

So now that my kids are much older and we are looking at a close-in-our-future “empty nest”, what to do next? I’ve been reading up on the Japanese concept of “ikigai”. Translated, it means “a reason for being”, and it’s about finding joy in life through purpose. Discovering your purpose in life…makes you think, doesn’t it? It’s beyond a job title and beyond the words “wife” or “mom”. Obviously, it doesn’t mean abandoning those things or diminishing their importance in any way. Rather, it’s finding your very own personal reason for being. What do you have to bring to the world?

My husband is lucky. He’s one of those people who had his stuff figured out very early in life. He made his own business in his early 20s and still runs it to this day. He is a fixer of things and even his name means “healer”. I, on the other hand, have a hard time sticking to any one thing for more than a week. He has the gift of remembering what people say word-for-word, even years later. I can only loosely paraphrase past conversations, at best. He can take something apart and remember exactly where every tiny piece and screw will go. I have to take copious photos during disassembly and it’s highly likely I’ll end up with a handful of screws and something that will never work again. So in that way, he is blessed. His brain is like an efficient filing cabinet. Every file is labeled and typed perfectly. Every memory is neatly tucked away in its own appropriate folder. My brain is reminiscent of a large bazaar/flea market with every vendor waving their arms and yelling for attention. Things I want to memorize are hastily written on scraps of paper (and promptly smudged), then thrown to the winds, likely never to be seen again. So this only brings me to the point that I will never be a star in the profession he chose, or maybe I should say, the profession that chose him.

I did a few exercises I found online to try and clarify my life’s purpose. What do I really love doing, after all?

I love creating. Whether that is sewing, cooking, writing, gardening, drawing, etc. I just love to make stuff!

I love to be helpful. It makes me happy knowing that I was able to help someone with a problem or teach them something new that is useful to them.

I love to learn. I see life as one big science experiment. There is a saying, “There are no failures, just discoveries.” This is why I enjoy trying new things constantly. What works? What doesn’t? I look forward to learning something new every day.

Now where does that leave me? For the present, I have no idea, and that’s okay! At least now I can focus on activities that involve these 3 passions of mine. So here I sit, creating! I found this article that I thought was pretty good on finding your ikigai:

You see? There’s the helper in me.

Now I will leave you with a photo from the farm. I don’t know the name of this iris, but I’m betting she is an old variety. This year, she put on her best blooms, so the “SNOVID 2021” of Texas didn’t hurt her!

I hope you will hang around for more posts. I look forward to sharing 3 years’ worth of farm pics and experiments with you!

Showers N’ Flowers

Today I am sitting at my desk at work, contemplating why I even attempt to re-ink a stamp. The frugalista in me says, “Why buy a entire new stamp when a bottle of ink is three dollars?” The realist in me says, “Every time you re-ink a stamp, you end up looking like you were booked and fingerprinted MULTIPLE times in the county jail.” I now have ink on my desk, my face, all of my fingers, my pencil cup, my mouse, and the book I was reading. Luckily, I wore a black shirt today.

But let us discuss more pleasant and pretty things. My yard, for example!

This spring was chilly all the way into the first of May. Not that I’m complaining, HOWEVER, my corn I planted never came up and my cream peas were lackluster. My tomatoes were sad and took forever to grow. Even so, now that it’s warmed up, things are filling out. Let’s take a look around:

View from our porch. It rained today for the first time in a MONTH, PTL! I was already tired of watering.  Yarrow and daylilies are at the forefront:


View of the house. The front porch will eventually be screened in the front, and closed on the sides with big screened windows. I call it my future three season room. You can see that the blanketflower (on bottom left) really took over. It is all over our yard now.


Front left side of porch. From left: Indian hawthorn (covered in blackberry I can’t kill), blue/black salvia, daylily, and then my lemon trees I grew from seed five years ago. Also, a couple of geraniums.


View of what I call “The Salad Bowl”. Jason leveled the front yard, and this required making a hill around the driveway. I have really been working on this hill with tomatoes, wildflowers, asparagus, and Drift roses, among many other things. Trying to keep it covered to prevent erosion. Also, it is 100% ‘sugar sand’, so I am slowly digging out sand and replacing with compost. The flat ground is where we will plant big thing like corn and okra, and you can also see my sad peas and my rows of green beans. The flowers are brown eyed Susans, which I love!


Raised metal bed that Jason built. The plan is to trellis indeterminate tomatoes here. This is a 10′ bed, but a 20′ is in the works. I will put anything vining or trailing on these.


Prime-ark Freedom blackberries! Only 2 yr old vine and producing tons of huge fruit. I love this berry!


Backside of the ‘rose garden’. Time to clean up the old bulb leaves. Once they are brown, they are fine to remove.


Iris bed with orange, purple, and white irises. Also have some daylilies and crocosmia planted.


The ‘rose garden’, with a few unidentified roses, but also has “Trumpeter”, “Electron”, Mutabilis, “The Fairy”, and “Dolly Parton”. I put assorted impatiens in the empty spots just to fill space.IMG_20180520_190023805

Another view of the iris bed. You can see the lighter green crocosmia taking over, but it’s so gorgeous here in a few weeks, who cares? The little tree on the right is a lemon tree that I planted from local seed. There are two lemon trees in Jacksonville that I know of, and both are ancient. I got seed from both trees about five/six years ago, and one tree is just now fruiting! We are sooooo excited. BTW, the Coors can you may see isn’t mine; it’s for the slugs. Yes, I am a bootlegger for slugs. Only kidding…slugs are apparently addicted to cheap beer and they will come by the hundreds to a beer-filled dish only to party and subsequently perish. Try it for yourself if the slugs are driving you crazy!


Hope you enjoyed the tour! In the next month, things will start getting crispy out there and I’ll only come out “when the sun hits the pines”, which is to say, either before sun up or after sundown!


Cat In Glasses, Weird Dog, and Walk Your Chicken Day

We recently discovered that our cat, Milo, loves to be dressed up. That is, he doesn’t resent it very much. Okay, fine, he doesn’t hate it and tolerates it more than ten seconds, which could indicate ‘love’ for a cat. Anyway, Milo was dressed to the nines this week, all while sitting in a tiny wicker rocking chair with a doll blanket on his ‘lap’. Amazingly enough, he never objected to any of this treatment and we all came out of this photoshoot with no bloodshed. Maybe in all the spare time I have (HA), I’ll make a cat calendar. Then again, probably not.




Later in the week, Nancy ‘remembered’ an old trick of hers: Bring us the dog food bowl and whack us on the legs with it until we fill it. It’s cute when it really is ‘cookie time’, but can get slightly annoying when, thirty minutes after she eats, she is already beating your ankles with her bowl. Still, I have to say she is a smart dog who knows what’s important in life. (FOOD)



We ended the week by putting a chicken in a dog harness and seeing what would happen. Things can get monotonous in the country sometimes, so you have to spice it up a little. As you can see, Rae did very well for his first walk. Really, it’s much like ‘walking’ a cat, which is to say, you put it in a harness, pray it doesn’t go berserk and scratch out your eyes, and follow it wherever it wants to go. Again, no bloodshed other than at the 0:11 mark, my child is attacked by fireants. We awarded Rae with a cabbage leaf covered in baby cabbage worms, and yes, he ate it down to the rib.


Have a fabulous pre-Thanksgiving weekend friends! I’ll be decluttering more, bathing dogs, and probably walking chickens.



Facebook, Redneck Trees, Creepy Garden Dwellers, Sewing, and Hygge…

and this is how the past week rolled here on the farm!

I had started week two of Facebook freedom, and it dawned on me that I did not have any way to contact a particular group of friends other than Facebook.


Feeling fairly defeated, I have logged back on. BUT, I have only been checking it twice a day. I think that is better than my former record 4,537 times a day and every time I went to the bathroom.

Do I still think it is possible for life without Facebook? ABSOLUTELY. I now realize that I didn’t have a good back-up plan for contacting folks (other than Facebook) which I have been working on correcting this week. I have only been looking at my group of friends page, and not my feed. Otherwise, I’d be back to spending a ludicrous amount of time on there.

Moving on!

I finally found a sign that I love after a four year search for the ‘perfect’ sign for my kitchen wall. It also helped that it was 50% off at Hobby Lobby! On the very same day, my food order with Mary Jane’s Farm  arrived. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was. I have been an official “Farmgirl” with Mary Jane for five years, and following her site/magazine subscriber for eight. I had never tried her food before and I have no idea why I hadn’t before. I also had forgotten that as an official Farmgirl I get free shipping! Hello!

So, I got a sampler pack that lets you try the Budget mix (think: Bisquick on a heavenly, organic level) and then a couple of instant meals that you just add water to the bag! They are intended for on-the-go or for camping/backpacking. All I can say is: WOW. Simply…amazing. In fact, I have already restocked yet again. More on that later.

Here is my sign and some of the food items.


Then the next day, I planted lots of pansies and violas in my gardens. I am not sure why I never (!) have planted pansies before but I love them so much!


And as I stepped out to check on the garden that evening, I saw these critters. We have a cute little toad and a massive spider. I have only seen three of these spiders in the nine years we have been here, but counting his legspan, it is easily as wide as my palm. Ack! It’s a good thing that I like spiders. Perhaps even more creepy is how well this little feller mixes in with the background…


With all of this extra time I now have (thanks to my Facebook reduction), I decided to get back to sewing. I have a love/hate relationship with sewing. There are times when that’s all I want to do, and then when it gets frustrating, I want to throw my sewing machine and all the fabric and sewing notions right into a burn pile. I had to use my seam ripper more than someone SHOULD on this dress. To be quite honest, I had to go to the store to get another seam ripper as I dulled my first one, if that tells you anything. Anyway.

It is a Dottie Angel design; Simplicity 1080, if you’d like to see the pattern. I plan on throwing on some leggings and doing farm work in it. I had read several critiques of this pattern and they are not unfounded. There are definitely parts of the pattern which just seem overly complicated. I still have to hem it and then figure out how to fit it properly so I don’t have the ‘back bunching’ that I have going on now. Losing 10 pounds would help, but until then, perhaps some well placed darts will do.


Later in the week, influenced by my dear friend “Big Rig”, I went to the dollar store to get some holiday “day-core”, as we say. Of course, all of the fall/Thanksgiving items were gone with exception of a lonely package of plates, some fall napkins, and a vinyl tablecloth, despite the fact it was only the first week of November. Actually, I want to say it was November second, perhaps? So a word to the wise, if you need autumn ‘day-core’ at the dollar store, you’d better head up there in August, I guess.

Even though I was pretty peeved that it looked as though Father Consumerized Christmas had just upchucked his wares on half of Dollar Tree, I just could not pass up the gold glitter deer head. So then I had to pick up a tiny dollar tree, a tiny strand of LED lights, and some gold ball things in the floral section. I grabbed a roll of gold glittery tulle (hint: UNWRAP IT OVER A TRASH CAN, unless you want your entire house coated in gold glitter). Yet, one deer head was just not enough.

Then it was a trip “up to the Wal-Marts” for more deer heads and tiny pinecones. All told, it was under ten dollars for my little redneck tree and I love it.


To finalize my week, I have been re-reading about the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ (pronounced ‘hue-gah’ or ‘hoo-gah’, depending on who you listen to). I had looked this up several years ago, being the trendsetter that I am and all (NOT), and I love love love the idea of hygge.

What is ‘hygge’? From what I gather, hygge is:

  • Snuggly blankets
  • Fireplaces
  • Wool socks
  • Cinnamon buns
  • Cake
  • Hot tea/coffee
  • Candles…many candles
  • Friends
  • A purring cat
  • Soft lighting (read: more candlelight)
  • Books
  • A cozy chair
  • Togetherness
  • Unfinished pine wood
  • Anything you can find at IKEA, surrounded by purring cats, lit candles, friends and family wrapped up in ‘cosy’ blankets wearing wool socks in front of your roaring fireplace, shoveling cinnamon buns and cake in their mouths while drinking hot tea/coffee and reading long, engaging and meaningful novels in a room preferably with either unfinished pine walls or an unfinished pine table.

And that, friends, is ‘hue-gah’ for you! So I would like to present my little snippet of farmhouse hygge to you. We have a purring cat in his cozy bed in an IKEA bin. Please note that this IS in a room with unfinished pine walls (unseen in photo).


For more hygge ideas, there are now a bajillion books, e-books, and websites dedicated to this 2017 word of the year, or, you can simply order a free IKEA catalog, curl up on your couch with a warm blanket and hot coffee, and peruse the pages at your leisure.

Until next time!

A life without Facebook: Week One

The Question:

Can it really be done? Can you still live in today’s world without the constant updates, “Vague-booking” posts from friends and relatives, those famous family Facebook fights, mindless scrolling, privacy-invading user tracking, and endless ads?

Yes. Of course you can.

The Issues:

Do you ever find yourself going to check “just one thing” on Facebook and then you look up from your Facebook fog and it’s two hours later, your coffee is freezing cold, and you’re still in your pajamas?

Have you ever been scrolling along and you see a friend/family member post something so offensive to you that you wondered how you could ever be in the same room with them again?

Did you ever find yourself in a heated comment debate with a random person (or maybe not-so-random) and you wished for a magical moment in time where you could reach through the screen and slap someone?

It’s not worth it.

I have wanted to leave Facebook for years, but I stayed on, mainly because of my direct sales customers. However, this changed early in 2017 when I decided to take a break from direct sales altogether so I could focus my time and energy on family and our homestead. This made my decision to quit social media much easier.

My Reasons:

  • Facebook Drama and the Resulting Stress: If the 2016 election taught us anything, it was that the old saying “Never discuss politics or religion” still needs a place in our society. I saw some of the most venomous things ever come from the keyboards of Facebookers. Another source of drama: Posts from family members/friends that you don’t quite agree with. Not necessarily my own family/friends, mind you, but this is a very real cause of stress that I have seen/heard about ever since the beginnings of Facebook. Many things…A GREAT MANY THINGS…are better left unsaid.
  • Wasted Time: I would be utterly embarrassed and ashamed to tell you the amount of time I spent on Facebook in a day’s time, so I won’t. However, I can tell you that in this last week alone, I have accomplished things that have needed attention for months and even years. Let’s just leave it at that. And if you enjoy research, look up dopamine and Facebook, and why it is so addictive.
  • Endless Sales Pitches: From the annoying side ads to sponsored posts to direct sales requests from our dearest friends…it is all just too much. Don’t even get me started on sales groups and being added without my permission. I can’t even touch on that without a bad word. The fact of the matter is, I am a frugal person trying to pay off all of my debts. Even a dollar spent on something that is not a debt is slowing down my debt pay-off progress. I LOVE to support small businesses and friends in any way I can, BUT, financially I just can’t do that with any regularity. This leads us to the last reason, which is:
  • GUILT: Whether it’s not being financially able to support your friend in her business or seeing the endless parade of homeless animals that are within hours of being euthanized and that you would love to adopt, but cannot, there is that awful emotion of guilt. As a mother, I already have to deal with Mommy Guilt. I really don’t need any more to add to my day. Then there are the events you are invited to, and can’t attend. Or perhaps it is a fundraiser for a great cause, and you were added to a FB group, but you have no extra funds or even a desire to donate. There is that dang guilt, just waiting around the corner.

The Wrap-Up:

I once read that the most annoying Facebook post is the one that says, “I’m taking a break from Facebook.” If that’s true, I apologize for being annoying. Still, I hope that you will consider perhaps taking a break from social media if you find yourself in a similar boat! I’ll be right here in my own happy corner of the web, living (mostly) guilt-free and working on my fall garden.

Vacationing with no Facebook updates (ahhhhh!):