Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Chalkboard Works!

Well, you can write on it and erase it...that's all it does...but, OMGah!  I made a chalkboard....and that makes me happy.  I finally figured out that a foam brush works best.  Do not use one of those soft made mine all bumpy.

Oh, and that's one of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson...  <3

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Summer Almost Ended Without Me Painting Something

Can you believe that??
Well, neither could I.
So, I found something to paint.
I have been playing on Pinterest (by the way, if you are the least bit "ohhhh, shiny" you will be on Pinterest for HOURS)
Anyway, on Pinterest, I saw some DIY projects regarding turning mirrors, doors, etc into chalkboards. cool.  So, I've decided to turn the front of my kitchen pantry door (just the inner panel) into a chalkboard. Drool.
I bought the chalkboard paint and got home and realized that the door has tiny grooves that are going to have to be filled and sanded before I can paint it.  ARE YOU KIDDIN' ME?!!?  Now, I have paint and nowhere to put it.  Sooooo, I remembered that I had an old mirror under my bed (don't's on of the lesser weird things under there) and decided that I would paint it, sand it  (the frame) and then paint the mirror part with chalkboard paint.  ---I'm still doing the kitchen door...I just had to do something while I waited to smooth the front of the pantry door.
I got the frame the way I wanted it...  and put the first coat of chalkboard paint on.  And you have to wait TWENTY-FOUR HOURS between coats.  I think it's a conspiracy against people who have a lack of patience.
I painted the second coat yesterday ...and it seemed my brush wasn't giving it a smooth enough look...
So, today I did the third coat with a mini's still not smooth enough for me...
Not sure what I'll do tomorrow with the fourth coat...

In the meantime, I bought a little brassy looking bird cage at the antique store.  I brought it home, got out the new spray paint can and saw this little white attachment:

You see that white attachment??  Well, when I first popped the lid off and saw it, it made me think of all those kids' toys I've bought over the years that have the little white tab on the back that you pull out to enable the toy to do it's thing....  so, of course, I pulled it out.
And then I began spraying my mirror frame.  I could not for the life of me figure out what was wrong with the dang spray can....I shook it some more...  held it level...
and THEN I turned it over to see if the can said anything about what to do in case of drips...
and I saw this.
Oh.  that little white thingie goes on there.... well, I'm sure PLENTY of people make that mistake.  like, all the time.
Anyway, so, I got that all worked out, and sprayed the frame several times and then sanded it lightly....
The green stuff is frog tape.  I'll take it off when it's dry.
Here's the bird cage...I'm going to hang it and put candles in it...  oh la la, baby!!!
This is the kitchen pantry door...with wood filler covering the entire thing.  And I was informed that the door is not actually real wood...and the filler might not stick.  So, I'm doing inside the pantry door first ... to see how it works....and I used all the wood filler, dang it. 

I LOVE the shape -- it's on the outside of the door as well.  Don't you think that will make a marvelous kitchen chalkboard?? 

Chickens Pecking Eggs

We had some trouble with our California Whites pecking their eggs a while back.  I read that once they begin doing that, it's nearly impossible to get them to stop.  We tried several different things to rid them of the habit, but when it became apparent that they were going to continue to do so, we ended up having them for dinner.  :)  Because chickens must learn that on the farm, you earn your keep...whether it be via eggs or via chicken and dumplings. 
Well, it came to my attention a few weeks ago that my beloved Black Australorps and four Reds had decided it might be fun to break open a few of their eggs.  I was crushed.  For one, because dang!  I don't wanna eat my favorite chickens!!  And for two, because dang!  They are the only ones laying our family's supply of eggs!
So, I started thinking on ways to break this nasty habit...
I thought....
And I thought.....
And I thought....
And then I thought some more...
I said, "Heck...maybe some oyster shells is what they need."....  Maybe they are cracking their eggs because they need more calcium...
In the meantime, I set about cleaning out the nest boxes and refilling them with fresh pine needles.  Well, the interesting thing was, when I began collecting them, I found that I was mostly getting GREEN needles, whereas usually, the ones you collect off the ground are the dead, brown ones.
The reason these were green was because we had this hellacious storm blow through a week or so hailed marble-sized pieces of ice like crazy...and the wind was blowing so hard, it nearly bent the old, tall pines around here in half.  Seriously.  The trees were bent over. 
You want to see pictures?  Yes?  Well, ok...anything for you...
The ground looked like it had snowed....  it was crazy...
 A picture of the paved road after the storm...ok, so you can't see the tree that fell over
nor all the limbs that broke out of the trees...but, you can see all the leaves and 
needles that were blown out.  Not as titillating, I know... oh, well...
So, where was I? Oh, I was refilling the nest boxes with pine needles and getting mostly a result of the storm.  And I had the thought, "Ohhhhhh.....maybe the smell of the fresh needles will kind of make them lose their appetite for the eggs.. because, I mean, if *I* had to smell green pine needles on my plate, while I would find the scent invigorating, I don't think I would find it appetizing."    Oh, dang...maybe that's a new diet trick....  put a sprig of green needles atop every meal.  Hmmmmm....
Well, guess what?  With the combined effort of giving them oyster shells, green needles, and checking the boxes twice a day so that no egg laid too long in the box, my sweet hens went several days without breaking an egg.  I was ecstatic.  Seriously.  And I really think it was the needles... just sayin.
I have to mention, just because I want to be truthful, that the last couple of days, those darn hens pecked some eggs. Now I'm going to blame that on the fact that I've been really busy and haven't been able to check the nest boxes quite as often.  I am annoyed, but I'm going to replenish the green needles and pull a California White egg pecker out of the freezer and stroll by their pen with it and pray they get the hint.

Ameraucana Update

The last time I posted about the Ameraucanas (think "Easter Egg" chickens...)
they were were in those awkward months of part chickie fluff and part adult feathers.  Since that time, they have completely come into their own...
The roosters are absolutely gorgeous...
Oh.  By the way, out of the six chicks, guess how many were roosters??  THREE.  Three roosters.  And need I remind you that ROOSTERS do NOT lay Easter Eggs.
Anyway, at least they have the pleasing to the eye factor to redeem them....  All three roosters are a different variety of Ameraucana...woo!!!  I love me some chicken variety diversity..  :)
One is a red color...  in the beginning, it seemed he would rule the roost...he had the fluffiest neck feathers and strutted his stuff...
However, another "cowboy" decided to start crowing a little louder, a little longer, a little more effortlessly...and Ole Red lost out in the pecking order... but it's not true what they say...the good guys don't always wear white...because even though this rooster is sporting his white, he's the meanest one of the bunch..  hmmm....maybe that's how you win the pecking order??
I'll have to get you another picture...that one doesn't do him justice...
Anyway, the other rooster is darker with lots of different colored feathers ...he's my favorite.  He's not mean and he is an original..  :)
Of the three hens, two are matching and one is a more generic looking rust color.  While the hens are pretty enough, the creativity in egg color is where they really shine...

Okay...take a look at the first egg found in the nest box...  DANG!!  I was so excited to get our first colored egg!  It's a very soft bluish-green color

Woooooo, baby!!!  Easter Eggs on the Fox Farm....color me happy :)

Friday, August 26, 2011

As Hiking Parallels Life....

The park with hiking trails near our house is only open Friday through, I've designated Friday mornings as hike morning.  Today was the first trip.. well, not the first trip there, but the first of the designated Friday trips there.  :)

The kids and I did the farm chores and loaded up to go walking....

When we got there, we opted for the longest hike...4.3 miles..with a brief detour at the end so that we could switch over to the trail that follows the river bank....because I do so love water..

So, we start walking and after a bit, I notice Isaac is struggling, so I reach down to take his hand, and he says,

"Thanks, Mom...I was really needing that."

And that's when it happened.  I thought, OMGah... that is SO life.  You're walking along and you don't even ask for it, and someone takes your hand, because they NOTICE you struggling...  and you realize how nice it is...  a hand in yours.

"Thanks....I was needing that."
And then the entire walk turned into so many parallels to life that I thought I'd take some pictures and share my thoughts with you....

Just moments after needing a hand, Isaac was running off, saying, 
"I don't need anybody's help now!"
(sound familiar??  LOL)

 Sometimes, you are the one that needs carrying... 
sometimes, you are the one strong enough to carry someone else.....

 Sometimes you get to revel in the fellowship of those journeying with you...

 Sometimes, you have march to the beat of your own drum,
and go against the grain  :)

Wow....the grass sure does look greener on the other side of that fence, doesn't it?


Sometimes, the path you're on is so dang beautiful, it takes your breath away...
and you are reminded why you endure....

Life is full of nuts...some of them you call "friend"  :)

There *WILL* be storms....and they will shake you to the core.  Looking upon the devastation will 
hurt ...  and maybe astound you that you survived.  You will have scars.

Sometimes, there are big, hairy things in your way...
but you find out when you are upon  them that they looked worse from afar
than they really are.

 You will sometimes feel hemmed in ...and restricted by your fences...
you will either straddle them, 
find an opening to the other side,
or find contentment in your pasture.

 There will be times when life is calm....
and you have a chance to reflect...
Take time to replenish your soul...
And stash away some peace for the storms you have yet to encounter.

Sometimes, being a rock means
staying in one place...
allowing things to roll on by you 
while you remain rooted where you are...

Other times, being a rock means
allowing yourself to be moved....
rolling, tumbling...from life's experiences. 
Either way, being a rock means that you 
remember who YOU are....

Sometimes, all you have to do is observe a path to know it's too rocky for safe travels...
and you either choose extreme caution or avoid it all together...

Sometimes, you feel all alone.
The path is lonely...there is no one but you in sight...
your heart loses hope..
you find the journey tedious, and lacking joy...

Remember during those times of loneliness, to look around...
you WILL see others walking the path...
they are there.
never lose hope.

Remember to take time to stop and notice the little things in life...
they will make your heart smile...
And give you photos for the inner eye for future bliss....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

guest blog from my eight year old "if-i'm-breathing-i'm-talking" daughter

 < my eight year old daughter wrote this, but it is supposed to be read from my though it's me doing the talking...enjoy!>

my 8 year old daughter has decided to make an animal jam blog, which totally is okay with me! i mean creativity should be encouraged right? answer: totally!,.... but come to think of it im not sure how to make a new blog..(please post an answer if you know how to) so she's like all hysterical on my and is begging at my knees, so after a while (and she also offered me 4 dollars which i didn't take) i said okay....i mean, she was like, almost to the point where she looked a minute away from whining,..(9 minutes later) oh my gosh she loves it so much! she won't stop  even enough for me to look at facebook, (wow talk about liking stuff!) so finally she says she's done but just then she says "oh wait i misspelled something!" ugh... (a couple minutes later) she's finally done (or so i thought) a little bit after that she says "mom, can i get back on? please?" oh well, so much for that little bit of peaceful time..well guess i should've seen that, she loves her new "animal jam blog" made two posts so far..well i guess i should have known it would not be easy getting back my computer (tonight: sarah vs. michelle) well it was hard getting to guess who would win, i kept pulling and she kept holding on...(not in a mad way, we where actually kinda laughing) which was actually fun, in a way, sorta.........(a couple of days later) well now we actually got something going on here: i get it in the morning and she gets it after wards and then after that she does not get any of it and i *do* get it unless maybe she has an idea, but other than that it's all me! oh yeah, now we got something going, definitely! yay, me! i'm free to type whatever i want without any requests for my computer, sweet! well i guess i'm in enough peace as i can get.


Yesterday morning, there was a slight nip in the air...  so, I thought I might do a little huffing and puffing on my steeply inclined know, for my cardiovascular health...  (well, and it occurred to me that if you are walking, and your rump is grooving to a whole 'nother beat than the rest of your body is grooving, in a beat with a much faster tempo...perhaps you should lay off the chocolate and take a walk up your driveway. Not that I am saying this because I had experienced it or anything...really.) 
Anyway, as I'm fixing to walk out the door, my three year old says, "oh! mom! I want to go with you!"  Sigh.  I'm not saying that's a bad thing ...but, I was seriously doubting my heart beat was going to get above normal with my sweet cheeks in tow.  Nevertheless, off we strode, hand in hand, out the door. 
That's when the magic started.  The air was perfect... birds were chirping...  the goats were baaaa-ing...and his sweet little voice pipes up and says, "It's a pretty day, isn't it, Momma?"  Ahhhhh...yes.  Yes, it is.
Pretty soon, we were observing all the peculiars lying on the driveway..  sycamore balls...  leaves...  rocks...
We started collecting things for his treasure box.  We were both "oooohing" and "aaaaahing" over little things....things that would have been overlooked had I been, jogging...ok - walking fast.
And guess what?
That walk didn't raise my heart beat enough to benefit my cardiovascular health....
but it *did* make my heart go pitter-patter---
That walk didn't melt any fat...
but it *did* melt away my stress---
That walk didn't make me treasure my more fit body
but it *did* make me treasure the moment----
And that in itself, was a Treasure.  <3
Sycamore balls, tulip poplar seed pod, an acorn stick, and crepe myrtle blossoms
One of my treasures..  <3

I Say To-may-to, You Say To-mah-to

Whew.  Let's take a break from all the heavy stuff, and talk about some homesteading, shall we??  :)  There ya go... settle back in your chair, unfurrow your brow, exhale, and let's talk tomato canning first!  :)

For the last couple of years, we haven't had a large harvest of tomatoes...  I mean, our plants were HUGE, and very lush, but the fruit was meager.  This year, our plants looked really sad and spindly and we got a lot more tomatoes...go figure.  Maybe it's because all of the plant's energy went into fruit production, as opposed to, leaf production.

We have picked tomatoes all summer in little spurts...mostly for tomato sandwiches--which, in my opinion, is summer's crowning achievement.  :)  A couple of weeks ago, it came to my attention that there were enough tomatoes to do some canning! yes!

Shiny, rain washed tomatoes
 My absolute favorite part of tomato canning is sliding the skin off.. :)  you dunk the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or so, and then immediately drop them in cold water...  this makes the skin burst and slip right off...

the other nice thing about canning tomatoes is that they only need a boiling water bath to process opposed to a presser cooker....
Since picking these tomatoes, we've picked and canned about two more rounds..
the first harvest finally in cans and waiting to hear the seal go, "Pop!"

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Forgiveness Sucks

I understand why forgiveness is such a big part of the Christian growth process.  It's like boot camp for your soul....very strenuous boot camp... with shouts of pain and moments of despair that you will ever graduate.  Not that I am implying that you EVER graduate...because I don't think you do.  Graduating would be like completing the course...and that doesn't happen until you die.  So, don't get any jolly ideas about "finishing" and being "done" ain't gonna happen as long as you are above ground and vertical.
The thing that frustrates me, is that you can get all upset about a particular incident or string of incidents.  You can feel anger and feel totally justified in that anger.  You can put up your walls, hang out some "do not disturb" signs, and prop your feet up on your TOTALLY-understandable footstool of emotion.  And guess what happens?  You sit there, arms across your chest, firm set to your jaw...and it occurs to you that you do not have peace.  Dang.  You have warring and wrestling and enough inner turmoil to generate a tsunami.  And that doesn't seem...  "right" somehow.  To forgive at this point feels like something akin to caving....or folding....or being weak say, fine....I'll let it all go...I forgive you. 
I understand the verse that says, love your enemies, do good to them that hate you.....  that's the extreme ...normally people who HATE you and who are your ENEMIES, you can find ways to limit your contact.  What happens when this forgiveness thing comes up with those you are in direct contact with on a daily basis?  What happens when you have to forgive a string of events?  What happens when forgiving means you have to open up and be vulnerable?  And what happens if the offender is also a Christian and knows the answer Jesus gave when posed with the question of how many times must we forgive?  (His answer being 70 times 7).  What do you do with that?
Sometimes, as a Christian, I just find it extremely annoying to think that I can have justifiable anger and He still expects something of me.  My human nature wants to buck up..  to say NO!...I shouldn't have to respond to my emotion.  I'm not even going so far as to say I want revenge.  I don't necessarily want that.  I just want to not be required to open myself up and stand naked in my vulnerability.
I do so firmly believe Paul definitely knew what he was saying when speaking of the warring going on within us in the book of Romans.  I feel like any action that we must take.... not, that we MUST take but that we feel "convicted" to take, sometimes results in an all out wrestling with God.  It becomes our human nature wrestling with what He is trying to transform us to be.
Sometimes....OK, FINE...most of the time, I resist the growth process.  I hate it when I think He is prodding me to do something when all I want to do is point my finger at the other guy and say, "DANG IT!!  it's HIM!! look at him!!! not me!  WHY do I have to transform?  Can't you just let me be this time...let me feel justified in my thoughts and feelings and emotions and work on someone else???  ENOUGH already!!!!!!"  I hate that part.  It sucks.  I'm still wrestling.  Jacob did that, you know... for three days he wrestled God.  I read somewhere that God allowed this to happen to show Jacob that all his wrestlings and struggles were really with God himself, and not man.  Is that really where most of our struggles lie?  And how does that come into play when relating to others?  I mean, REALLY?  I'm not talking about the pat Christian answers you get..about understanding and forgiving and "well, bless their heart...that's just the way they are."  I mean, really.  Where do you draw the line?  Where do you say, "ok, I forgive you but I can't allow you to do this?"  Or does something transform when your heart transforms?  Good grief...  transformation is not easy.  It sucks.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Communion Contemplations

(I started this post on Sunday...didn't finish it until now..which is why it says today is Sunday)

We went to church this morning..which would usually go without saying since it's Sunday and I'm a PK (preacher's kid) and an ex-Sunday School teacher, ex-choir member, ex-VBS director...and a follower of Christ....well, that in itself brings up some interesting issues.  When we say "follower of Christ"....what exactly do we mean by that?  I mean, is that like "I follow so and so's blog"?  As in, I read their blog, find it interesting, and then go about my business.  On occasion, something that you read on said blog might be brought to memory and may be implemented in your own life.....or perhaps, something in the blog may cause you to think more on an issue...but, to be a follower of Christ.....what does that mean?  Ok...maybe at some point I can delve more in to that...not because I have the answers...but, because I have a lot of questions, and a lot of the time, I seem to get more insight when I think/write.
So, this morning...I was at church.  And if you have read any of my past blog entries, you'll know that we have been having some....  inner turmoil in finding a new church.  Which by the way, once upon a time, when I had my own home church,  my own church family, and no worries about having to find another one, I truly could not fathom for the life of me how *some* people who called themselves "followers of Christ" just couldn't get in a church somewhere and faithfully attend.  I mean, there's a million churches out down any street in any town, USA and there's a plethora of churches...each reaching out to the "seeker" in you..  whether you want praise and worship, traditional, emerging, reformed, missionary, southern, contemporary, independent, small group, big group, inside, outside, older congregation, younger congregation, and so on and so forth...  which kinda means you can get totally swamped just figuring which buffet you want to park your keister up to...
At any rate, we went to a Lutheran church.  I was raised, going to a Lutheran church makes me feel kinda like a Mountain Dew in the middle of a table full of Dr. Peppers.
One of the main differences, in style, is the way Communion is done.  At a Baptist church, or mine anyway, the juice and bread is sent down each pew, you get yours, and pass it down.  At the Lutheran church, each pew gets up, goes to the front, and receives it from the pastor....who says something upon giving it to you.  At some, they kneel before receiving it.  That is way different to me....something about going up and being served.  And I've resisted doing it...just because. At first I thought perhaps I wasn't doing it because (one) it's different in style than I'm used to....and (two) it almost seemed to me like allowing someone to wash your feet ...which would be very humbling...and I just didn't feel like I could receive, it makes it more intimate.  BUT, Sunday, I'm sitting in church and Communion gets started and I'm thinking...  what is the emotion that Communion provokes?  Is it one of sorrow and contrition because of the gift He gave that you KNOW you don't deserve?  or is it one of joy and gratitude because of the gift He willing gave you?  Which then led me to thinking of the fact that it was a gift...and maybe when I don't do Communion, maybe I'm refusing that gift...or maybe not the gift itself, but the reminder of the gift.  And why would I be refusing that gift?  And then I thought, "Oh my I refusing it because I'm stubborn??"  Which was a simply horrifying thought to have.  I mean, maybe it's like I'm saying, ", thanks.  I don't need that..  you can keep it."  And why would I do that?  I mean, is it because I don't truly trust Him?  Because let me tell you, I have trust issues....  I veer right on being so stubborn that I won't let anyone do anything for me.  I have learned from various incidents in life, that if you want something done, you do it depend on yourself.  And I suppose I carry that over to Him.  It's hard to accept a gift that you don't feel like you deserve.  It's hard to open yourself up and believe sometimes.  It's difficult to desire.
When you have faith....and hope....sometimes it results in your heart becoming soft...and letting down your guard is painful...
But, I think that's what maybe following Him means..... an awareness of your need...and learning to not be afraid of your neediness...maybe.  I don't know.  I don't even know if I'll do Communion for sure the next time it comes around. I just know that there's a lot more going on than just a resistance against "style"...

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Free Movies...Week 2

Week before last, we went to our first free movie of the summer....  and saw The Last Airbender.  (I's an older movie...but, it's really good...I love it...makes me want to bend water...which I *may* have attempted in the pool with my three year old the other day... for real.  It was convincing, too...just ask him.)

Anyway... this week, we were going to see Gulliver's Travels....which I haven't seen.  The other choice was Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs...which showed LAST year at the free movie....I mean, I know it's FREE, but come ON.... as a parent, I'd kinda like to enjoy the show...and I'm really not *that* hard to please...

So, we get to the theater (which is a good distance away)...and I got there like TWO FULL MINUTES before the movie started...  and found out ....that the freakin' FREE movie was *sold* out.  seriously.  The ONE time I'm early.  sheesh.
We all head back to the car and I say, no worries....we'll stop at the video store and get the movie and I'll make popcorn...  and we can pause it during Isaac's 50 pee breaks....
I noticed when I got in and turned the key that the ignition sounded rather weak...but, not to be thwarted, I shook it off, and headed up the road.  The kids were starving..of course.  You cannot take children in a moving vehicle over 5 miles up the driveway before somebody is absolutely starving and must go through a drive thru. It was 10:00 am.  We pass a McDonald's and Jacob says, "Mom...I'm starving..."
I say, "'s 10 am ..they are still serving breakfast.  We aren't breakfast eaters."  
(I mean, we eat breakfast....cereal, french toast, ramen noodles.....but, we don't eat MEAT biscuits...not the kind from a drive thru, anyway..  oh, and NEVER sausage.  yuck.  nothing worse than meat that bounces when you bite down on it....  seriously grossing myself out here... )
And Jacob says, "Mom...I can't wait that long...I'm *starving*"
And against my better judgment...the kind that screams at you from inside your head, "DON'T LISTEN TO THE KID....THEY ARE PERSUASIVE...GO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW!!"  I drove through the drive thru.  Chicken biscuits.  Okay...we can do chicken biscuits.  I mean, the chicken *sandwich* is tasty...why not?  So, I get five chicken biscuits, five hash browns, and five stinking strawberry pies.  I ONLY bought the pies because the little guy at the window made me feel OBLIGATED..he nearly threatened me...I felt pressured....he said, "Could I interest you in a strawberry pie today?"  See.  He pressured me.
We get our food...  I hand it out....  and immediately Sarah pipes up from the back and says, "There's a HAIR in my biscuit."...    there is *nothing* worse than a hair in my food.  ugh.  And Jacob (aka future chef) feels the same.  I look in the rear view mirror and see a reflection of the repulsion I feel.  And then he says, "Their sanitation score was 1.5 points below where I like it to be"..  LOL.  We do NOT eat out with out Jacob scoping out the sanitation score...with diligence.  And then he says, "And the meat is all jiggly."  Which is EXACTLY what I was thinking.  Apparently, all that stuff that's left over from the chicken sandwich gets smooshed together for the biscuit.  {{shiver}}
So, I decide to go by the homeschool store a few miles down the road.  Upon turning off the vehicle, I think just for kicks, I'll see if the car will start back up (because it was sounding weak at the theater).  It didn't.  But I think, eh...why bother with it now?  I'll figure something out when I'm finished inside.  ohhhhh....books.  I adore book stores...especially ones that have a used section.  I found three Ted Dekker books (my absolute FAVORITE AUTHOR) for seven dollars each.  (The Martyr's Song series...if you haven't read these, you should... you know how I felt when the McDs guy pressured me to buy pies)
I came back out...thought I'd try the ignition again..because you know..maybe the heat from the sun revived it or something.  Nothing.  I went back in the store and asked the younger girls behind the counter if they had any jumper cables.  And the little girl says, "No, we don't....but, you could walk down to the Flea Market.  There's some gallant men down there."  She said gallant men.  I'm not poking fun at anyone ...believe me...I'm not.  but..."gallant men"... what makes those men "gallant"...has she ever had any interaction with said men?  because she was more the ...ummm.....   oh, nevermind.  I can't go there without being offensive.  So, just nevermind.  Can I just say that it reminded me of a Lancaster, PA locale comment.  If you get that, fine.  If you don't, even better.  LOL.  I just looked at her and said, "Let's hope they're *gallant*.." and walked on down the sidewalk to the Flea Market of Gallant Men.  :)
Of the first three men I asked, none had jumper cables.  Gallantry must not be in the jump starting business.  I did eventually find a very kind older gentleman who had cables... I think he defined gallant.  :)  He drove down to my vehicle and jumped my car off and advised me "don't turn your car off till you get home"... and away I drove.
As I am driving home, almost half way there, I notice my car is nearly on empty.  Sheesh.  Seriously?  Well, I think to myself, *surely* it will make it home...I am NOT stopping for gas and risking not being able to find a gallant man. 
And besides, I always have my phone.
And then I hear the sound it makes when the battery is dying....the little annoying beeps...oh, jolly good!
And Isaac is in the back seat....."but, Mooooooooooooooooooom, I thought we were going to get a movie?!?!?"  Only I can't now because I'm almost out of gas...and I can't turn off the car.....and I can't call anyone if I do run out of, that pretty much means we're going straight home, honey bunny.
At least I have good reading material .....  :)

Blackberry Jam, Blackberry Jelly, Blackberry Tie-Dyed Aprons, Blackberry Fingernails....

I have a ole timer farmer friend....whom I love.  Nearly every time I see him, he is overall clad and smiling.  And he knows where all the best deals are on local produce.  There just ain't nothing to do with a person like that but love 'em.  Here's a picture of him from a few years ago:  note that he is with my kids....and not afraid.  :)  Also worth noting is that he showed up at this place to help us pick blueberries when he couldn't even eat them himself.  (Wow....those are some big blueberry bushes, huh?  Have you ever had to stand on a ladder to pick blueberries??  Crazy, huh?)

(Okay...those aren't blueberry trees.. It's a peach tree.  The kids talked him into aiding them in peach picking...or he talked them into picking...I'm not sure which.  All I know is, I turned around and nobody is picking blueberries but me...strange how that works.) 
Back to the story...
So, my sweet farmer friend calls me the other day and says, Michelle, I've found you some blackberries.  You come on over and pick 'em up.
I get to his house and not only does he have a bunch of blackberries, but he also has a box of peaches, a watermelon, and a cantaloupe.... seriously.  I think he wears overalls to hide his wings.  I bet they are made of feed sacks.  I love feed sacks.  I really want to find some to cover some of my throw pillows....and make a pocketbook....and maybe a dress.  How cool would that be? I want a feed sack dress.  ( searching "feed sack dress" made me drool...  seriously gotta find some feed sacks)
What was I talking about again?  Blackberries.  The farm girl kind.  Not the phone
So, yesterday, I start squishing blackberries between my fingers....and when I wiped my hands on a papertowel, I noticed how pretty the color was...  and I *do* SO love pretty colors....course, I didn't have a white t-shirt I could tie-dye..  so, I was thinking, Dang...I guess I could make me an apron to dye...and then it occurred to me, "OHHHH!!!  APRON!  I have one of those."  and it's white.  was white.
So, I squish blackberries, use a spoon to press them through the sieve

to separate the juice for jelly

and set the pulp to the side.

I looked up how to use natural dyes online and read that you could use salt as a pre-soaker so the color would set...  So, I put my apron and Sarah's in a pot with salt and cold water. I think it was a half a cup of salt for every 8 cups.
I then twirled them up, put rubber bands on them, and poured some blackberry juice over them (in a small bowl)...I tried to use as little blackberry juice as possible...since I was going through all this trouble for actual food, initially.  To ensure that the aprons stayed below the surface of the juice all night, I put a small saucer on top and weighted it with a quart jar of honey :)
And then I set about making the jam and jelly.  I made the jelly first...I decided to make cooked (canned) jelly, since I'm running out of freezer room (think surplus goat milk). I am so used to making freezer jam that I really didn't pay attention to the directions for cooked jam as closely as I should have ... arrgh..
I mixed the juice, pectin, and sugar and brought it to a boil....just as I realized that you only bring the juice and pectin to a boil....and add the sugar later.  FAIL.  So, I get up this morning to syrup....blackberry syrup....which, *technically* can still be used...think IHOP.  I don't know...does IHOP have blackberry syrup?  Whatever.  You know what I'm getting at.  (If IHOP doesn't have blackberry, they should.)
Anyway...I re-made it this morning.  That's right.  I popped all those little seals off, dumped them into a pot, and FOLLOWED THE DIRECTIONS included for the misfortune when your jelly does not set up. I have to look and see if it's set up.  Hmmmm... SYRUP.  Okay.  All I have to do is convince myself that I WANTED shouldn't be hard...  I am of the same mind as Calvin...(from Calvin and Hobbes)

"I'm not in denial, I'm just selective about the reality I choose to accept"

So, yesterday...  after I made the, syrup...  I made the jam. I ran it through the sieve twice to get out as much of the seeds as possible...cause I just wasn't sure I could eat it if it was like snap, crackle, pop trying to eat my biscuit...  The jam turned out great.  Mainly because I paid attention to the directions.  *Sometimes* I learn from my mistakes.  
 And then...the unveiling of the aprons...or, unwinding...  untwirling...
I was ecstatic!  You know what color they were?!?!?!   Blackberry.  Seriously....  you knew that, right?
They were brilliant!  And then I washed them *gently* in the sink...and then sent them through the rinse and spin cycle in the washer...  and then the dryer...
And they weren't as bright...but, very cute!

Hold On to Your Britches... There was an Intruder

I met someone the other day...  it ended so badly that I took a shot at him.  I know, I know...shame on me.  But, really, in my shoes, you would have done the same.  I mean, he reeked of venom...have you ever met anyone like that??  A being such that one look into their eyes, and your body gives an involuntary shudder... your skin starts crawling till you've got a handful of flesh huddling up in your armpit... nevermind that you're so freaked out your knees are knocking and you've got sweat streaming from your pores...

I walked out of the house into the warm, humid day..  milk bucket swinging in my hand...  and headed for the goat pen/feed shed.  I sat the bucket down, opened the shed door, reached over and flipped off the power to the fence, and leaned over to take the lid off the goat feed barrel.  As I leaned over, I came face to face with ... a freakin' intruder in my goat pen!!! I sharply sucked in my breath   and do you know what my next thought was??  
Yes.  I did.  I asked ...(that's a lie....I didn't ask)...I said, "Hurry!  Go get the camera."..  Sadly, I did not think on safety first...  I didn't remove myself from the danger.  I simply felt the primal urge to capture him ... albeit, not in a net.  or trap.  But in a picture.  Sad.

You want to see him, don't you?

Well, okay.  I mean, if you intrude on someone's property and are the cause of a subsequent change of pants, then you deserve to have your picture pasted all over cyberspace.

I did feel some measure of relief to notice that he had already eaten his AFTER dinner mint.  (see empty wrapper)

I bet your flesh is huddled under your armpits right now.  It's okay...  you're in good company.

AFTER, I took a picture of him, I decided that something needed to be done.  Mainly because the animals still had to be fed and I wasn't going to go about my business dipping feed out of the barrel that HE was hiding behind.  So, I went to the house to get the .... means of disposal.  When I came back, I leaned over the barrel to see if he was still there, and all I could see was his tail sticking out from under the barrel.....  Guess where his head was????     It was under the barrel. The barrel sits on a board.  There is about two inches between the board and the ground.  This is the space he was occupying.  Okay.  Now.  Guess where my flip flop clad foot was? was within breathing distance of his pointy little head. toe still shudders and curls under when I think back on it...  

So, I back up...  and think...okay, I'll just shoot up under the board and surely I'll hit him, right?  Right. And then I think ....hmmmmm...what if he comes darting out IF I miss?  Should I lay on the milking stand and shoot sideways?  Nah...  because, technically, he could come darting out, make straightway for the stand, and I will have to go from a lying position to a pooping my pants standing position in like 2 seconds... or however long it would take him.  So, cross that out.  I finally decide on standing about three feet a safe distance away..and I shoot.  I think I may have possibly closed my eyes when it went off.  I did that on purpose.  I was saying a Hail Mary for him.  Turns out I didn't need to, though.  Because I missed.  He crawled away safely under the goat I need to remind you that the goat pen and milking stand snuggle as closely together as lovers?  Have you ever milked a goat while holding a ...means of disposal?   Okay, neither did I.  Because you can't.  Unless you have a means of disposal holster.  Ohhhh...I need to get one of those.  I could wear it with my bandana and pigtails...and boots. 

PS  Oh.  That was a venomous copperhead.