Sunday, September 30, 2012

::garden in review::

Oh pretty little cottage garden - you make a good therapist.

But I sort of lost my mojo for you this year.  Once we started talking about moving it seemed like you were not as much fun as usual.  

Please forgive me?  I just didn't feel like focusing on making you awesome so some one else could have you.  What if they didn't appreciate how stinking rad you are?  What is they tilled you up and ...gulp...built a GARAGE on top of you.  The trauma.  But here is a new promise - I am going to keep going with you like we are not moving.  And if some one buys this house then I hope you look your very best and win them over with your stunning-ness (Is that a word?).

Love - Brooke

Gardening this year was crazy.  Our weather was desert like for most of the summer.  It was way beyond the perfect gardening weather we have here in Indiana.  We have a very deep well on the funny farm so I could still water my cottage garden, but my back gardens had to sink or swim.  It sank.  Epic fail.  Weeds didn't even grow back there for some time.  Josh finally just tilled it under.  But the cottage garden did okay.  Just okay.  I tried to experiment this year with very early plantings and a set of late fall plantings.  Those happen to work perfectly.  I have carrots, lettuce, peas, and spinach out the wazoo.  The middle of the summer stuff is what struggled.  The tomatoes taste amazing this year (I love you Black Krim), and I have more hot and bell peppers than I could ever use.  The melons failed.  Even my bush watermelons in the cottage garden were barely able to feed the chickens.  We had almost no strawberry's, I got to fix that.  My green beans voted no this year.   

What am I going to change next year - assuming we are here?
     Drip irrigation in the cottage garden 
     Some kind of water set up for the messy garden
     Keep experimenting with companion plantings - sunflowers with green beans, tomatoes with lettuce underneath,  spinach planted under broccoli
     Have a kids bean tepee
     Plant a large strawberry patch
     Make a cold frame and experiment with using it
     Start my own seedlings - something I have resisted till now
     Finally fix up the front flower beds into edible landscape
     And 100 other things if I don't stop looking at stupid addicting pintrest

Friday, September 28, 2012

::art area shrinks and FOR SALE update::

This is what the art supply area used to look like.
Full of fun.

But with our effort to move I had to condense it down.  Now we are just in this cabinet and a big rubber maid tub in the laundry room.
I miss the art supplies.
I hate having them put away.  
This is something I will majorly enjoy fixing once things here get settled down...

Which seems like a good segway into a Farm For Sale Update.

This place was a major pain to get decluttered  - but we did it.  It really looks great.  But as a wise father of mine once said, "You can't polish a turd."  The land is amazing, but the house is a loveable - like a mother loves a child.  You love it because it is yours.  Except my kids, because anyone would love love gorgeous creatures.  
Back on focus - the house.  
We have made the house look as good as it can.  Its been for sale for three weeks.  We got one showing.  They said, "Great land, house is too small."  The end.  No other interest since.  They did say the price was fair, and judging by the rest of the market I think that is true.  I feel like the price reflects the TLC that the house needs to make it updated.  If kitchens and bathrooms really do sell houses, then this place will never sell.  
If this house sold as priced right now we would walk away with nothing, but we wouldn't owe anything either - if you are feeling like a glass half full kind on person.  That would be fine with me.  I would call that a do over and move on.  But if things progress and we end up having to short sale we are getting majorly different reports.  A mortgage guy we have worked with before just about threw up when I brought it up to him.  He said it would be seven years till we could do anything after this place was sold.  He said it was a terrible idea.  Our real estate agent, who some days I love and some days I doubt a bit, makes it sound like a total cake walk.  I don't mind a rental after this house for a little while.  (I define "little while" as less than two years)  That would give us a chance to finish repairing the damage our spendy 20's caused us.  Now that we live in our frugal 30's.  Hopefully followed by our secure 40's and 50's and relaxing 60's-100's.
Again - I shoot off on a tangent.  
I just want some one who actual knows to come over and say - here is what you do so you sell this farm ASAP and move in to a cute little rental.  Where you can then buy a piece of land with in six months and put up barns right away.  Then in a year you can build a modest little house and get going on all your crazy homesteading ideas.  Every time I think I found someone that I can utilize to get this information I find out I didn't understand all the details.  
Like sand through the hour glass so are the days of our lives.  

PS - no unicorn here.  I am not whining.  Things are over all 95% wonderful.  I love Josh and he loves me.  The kids are mostly healthy and thriving.  I still get to live on this farm for now.  We are making financial progress every month.  

Then all the sudden I stop typing and look out the window.  Look at this pretty place.
Doubt creeps in.
Should we even move at all? 
Yes - we need to move up to the in laws.
But... this house.  
It's so loveable. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

::what's up with Lily?::

Emma took this picture of Lily and Lily's birthday party.  It makes me so happy.  She is so cute.  
That kid has had lots of things going down this last year.  
She started third grade with out a hitch.  She is pretty concerned about the idea of moving but she is coping okay.
Then on August 16th she started puking.  I thought it was normal old kid stomach bug stuff.  This ED nurse wasn't going to over react and take that kid in for normal stuff.  But she didn't stop.  I called the pediatrician, like you always should.  She said don't worry about it.  I called them a day latter and they still said don't worry about it.  So I went against all my own rules and took her in anyway after work on the 20th.  I know I always whine about bringing your kids the ED if they don't need it, but this kid needed it.  Screw the Dr on the phone.  
  After many glorious hours in a peds ED (ALWAYS TAKE A KID TO A KIDS ED!!!!!) Lily ended up getting admitted for five days.  She got lots of fluids and would start to get all better, till they tried to feed her and she would get sick again.  We had some total BS diagnosis (abdominal migraine) and some other silly things go down.  But finally she just got better.  We think it was just a very persistent viral GI bug.  That poor kid was a hot mess.  It was so wonderful to see her get better.  I really don't care what was wrong with her, just that she got better and we dodged a bullet.   We are supposed to follow up with her GI Dr.  I don't think she needs any follow up but we will go just to humor them, since they called and requested we make an appointment.  

Many of you may know that Lily has had some struggles with school.  She struggles with reading at the same level as her peers.  Her kindergarten and first grade teacher ignored these problems.  I finally got her second grade teacher and a new school principle to work with me and address these issues.  They had Lily tested and she qualified for extra help.  By that point her math scores had fallen behind her peers too.  Math had previously been a strong suit, but I think her confidence was broken.  They spent the last half of the year getting her on track, but she still ended the year behind.  Her grades are always A's and B's.  This last term she got all A's.  But that is only because she was in the lowest reading group and the lowest math group.  When I asked her about reading once she told me, "I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer."  That is an expression I use a great deal, never about her, and the way she said it - like she thought it was just a slightly humorous fact and that I would just agree...  I almost died.  I had a very serious talk with her about how she had many talents that the other kids did not have and might not ever have.  I explained that she was way above them all in music and acting.  I told her that she might not be learning to read as fast as them, but we would keep working on it, and once she got it she would catch up.  She kind of believed me, and over time I really talked her into the truth in it. 

This year things have been more on track with school.  I can see a big improvement.  She is reading better and putting it all together.  The other day she told me that math was too easy and that she wanted to move up to the next math group.  I encouraged her to talk to her teacher about it.  We practiced and worked on what she would say.  When she talk to the teacher she told her she was already thinking about moving her up a level anyway!!!!  Lily came home grinning ear to ear.  She felt like big stuff.  And yesterday she moved up to the next math group.  There are few parenting moments where you get to think you handled something right and it all worked out perfectly.  

This is one.  

I feel like I am basking in the sun.    

Till I get a note from Max's teacher.  :)

Friday, September 21, 2012


The spa party went off with out a hitch!!!
We ended up with nine girls that were ready to get so spa work done.  

I had my dining room set up for them when they got there.
From the dollar section at Target I got the little make up totes for them and the compacts.
 Off of Amazon I got them spa flip flops and toe separators.
Scrubbers lined the center of the table, along with jars of Sharpies.
I always like to have an "opening craft".
Something they don't have to do together, so they can play while they wait for the other girls to arrive.
This time I had them use the Sharpies to decorate their supplies.

Letting them just free style their items how ever they wanted brought one some really cute designs.  

Then we headed out onto the deck were I had all my supplies for the activities divided out into different tubs. 
First thing we did was mix chocolate facials.
I put the girls into groups of 2-3. 
Then I told them the directions.
I was amazed at how carefully they divided the steps amongst their group.  I didn't have to regulate that at all.  It was so sweet.
I looked up a ton of different directions for the facials, but ended up putting a few together to come up with a final plan.
We went with -
1/3 cup cocoa powder
A big glop of honey
2T yogurt
2T heavy cream
3T oatmeal
Enough water to make it not like dough

Then the girls used some cheap foam brushes to put the mixture on each other.
Grown ups helped, but it was mostly the girls.

Chilled cucumber slices were at the ready.

Till they started eating the cucumbers.

Then they moved on to foot soaks.

Scented Epsom salt and rose petal made them think they were very fancy.
And my dearest sister in law got these basins from the OR she is a nurse in.

While there were relaxing in foot baths the grow ups swept through and painted fingers nails and removed facials.
(I tried the facial mask that morning and it seriously works.  Lily told me I looked "Lots less old" after it.)

All the pretty little colors of the rainbow.  
It was time for the kids to take a snack break.

Candy melt covered sprinkle rolled Oreo pops were the hit of the party.
Even Auntie Monnig loved them.  

A tub of drinks was around for the girls.
Can you tell by the one left over Coke what was the most popular?

One of my friends gave the the idea for this next activity. (THANKS KELLY!)
The girls sat in a circle with a bottle of polish.
I played music and they passed the polish around like hot potato.
Then when the music stopped you had to paint your neighbors toe what ever color you had in your hand.
The girls loved this game.  It was loud and very messy.  
My deck looks so pretty with all the colors. 

The quality of the paint jobs may not have been professional, but the colors were so pretty. 

Lily got started on presents.
The biggest hit of the party was the blue kangaroo that her Grammy made her.
He is from the book "It Was You Blue Kangaroo"
One of our favorite books about a girl named Lily and her kangaroo. 

She also about fainted when she got her crazy LaLaLoopsy Silly Hair doll.

I got her cake made again this year.
I really should have done it myself, but it just takes so much stress off me to have it done.

Lily loved it. 

Quinny thought the cake was wonderful.

The final activity was making a brown sugar scrub.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
A few drops of vanilla
2T lemon juice
Mixed in a jar to take home.

Quinny and his 18 month old cousin were the only body in attendance.  
But Q thought is was a pretty good gig.   

All pics but a very few where taken by Emma.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

::future homestead dreams::

photo credit

Side note - if you missed it, we are moving.  Moving closer to my inlaws and our support system.  This will be a good thing for the kiddos but we came to this choice suddenly and kind of against our will.  My current feeling is excited, but that ranges to anxiety-fear-mania-etc.  

To distract myself from the stressors of packing, staging, cleaning, purging, and selling this farm I have been day dreaming about the next one.

What do I want from the next place?

I want a house that is at least four real bedrooms and 2.5 baths.  Emma and Lily can share when Emma visits us.  I want a once story ranch with a future bonus room over the garage.  I want a mud room that is large enough for this family.  I would happily trade a dinning room for a big mud room.  We need two living spaces.  One as a play room and one as a grownup room.  I crave a screened in porch to enjoy the outside.  I want a garage.  A real live garage where I can not get rained on.  The house itself doesn't have to be fancy.  We are dreaming of being able to build but that may hinge on how this house sells.

I would love to have some kind of pool for the kids.  Nothing crazy, but something fun.  With two little guys coming up I really want a basketball court.  This may sound extreme but I am not talking about bleachers, just a cement slab for the kids to play on.  

I want to basically repeat my current cottage garden, just a slightly different configuration.  Size wise it is just about perfect.  I want an herb garden near the house, small green house somewhere, and cold frames near by.  I have loved having a messy garden.  Somewhere out of sight that can just grow and almost never gets weeded.  The perfect place to grow things like watermelons.  I just read an article about raising winter hogs in your empty messy garden.  They eat all the weeds and fertilize the ground.  That might be something.

When it comes to animals I need a small barn, nothing like what I have.  Just somewhere to birth baby goats and stable a hurt horse when needed.  With a hayloft for storage.  Maybe - or maybe not.  I love the idea of a farm with lots of little out buildings instead of a character free big pole barn.  I also want my pasture setup to reflect rotational grazing and multiple uses.   

In an ideal world the animals situation would be:
Pasture and housing for - Donkey and two horses,  a few future freezer cows, several mini goats, at least one mini goat buck, a handful of sheep (look up Icelandic sheep-they are so rad), and the random creature of the year (like a lama or something)
I would like a chicken coop with a run, but also a chicken tractor to move around my garden to aid the soil
A pig pen of some sort with secure fencing as I here they are escape artists (or bull dozers since they just push everything down.)

And lets not forget those beehives that I can't wait to learn about

All my creatures are for fun, 4H, or the freezer.  The horses and goats don't need anything fancy and the freezer meat needs humanity and quality of life to be considered.  What tips or experience do you guys have with setting up a farmyard?  With home building?  With all the antics I am dreaming of?


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

::garden for sale pictures::

 Max got his own band aid.
This really has nothing do with anything - I just like his hair.

 I am sure this picture will not make the cut for the for-sale pics, but don't you think it says something?
Like - this place is so cool that they have pears.  

 Oh, my garden looks so pretty with the morning glory's over the entrance. 

 I think this one should go in the add.

Or this one?

Which one is best?  (not including Max, who is not for-sale with the house)

Monday, September 3, 2012

::some for sale pictures::

 I am working on pictures for the house add.
We are using a realtor but I am just so controlling that I wanted to take the pictures myself.
Staging for the sake of a picture has been an adventure.  

 I have had some really good help cleaning out my closet.

 My room has never looked like this for more than 30 seconds.
And yes my bed is on the ground.  
We broke the bed frame.
Interpret that however you want.

 And the kids room has never been this empty.

 And the playroom...
Seriously - it only looked like this from one spot for about 45 seconds.

 Do you think that the pellet stove is a selling point?
An alternative heating source and all that jazz?

 If you pan slightly right this is what you would see in the playroom picture.

 I was standing on the green chair when I took the "clean" pictures.
I have found the start of this staging/purging process to be renewing.  
I got rid of eight trash bags of things to be donate and four trash bags of just straight trash.  

Every game or puzzle that is missing a piece is out.
All the stinking happy meal toys, all the crap they never play with - gone.  
It has been freeing.

I will never get down to a minimalist category but I am creeping toward my goal of getting rid of at least a third (pushing for half) of our stuff.  

Today we do the art room into a dinning room and the family room.
I may need a dumpster. 


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