Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Monthly Moos {How Do You Call Your Cows?}


Can you believe that our oldest heifer (female) calf is almost eight months old?  I feel like the Mommy that says, "How did my baby grow up so fast"?   Well, the dreaded day came when Eldon said, "It's time to separate the heifers from the herd".  The purpose of this is two-fold:  we need to wean them from nursing their Momma and also separate them from the herd before they come into a breeding cycle.  We do not want them bred this young, so they must be moved away from the bull and into their own pasture.
 
 
To get all the cows to the corral where we can separate the calves, we call them.  Literally we call them.  As in:  "SOOK, SOOK, SOOK"!!!  I get this job and it is so much fun.  Today I had my grand-daughters with me in the Ranger and we slowly drive by the herd calling, "SOOK"!  The cows come running.  See Old Red?  She's always in the lead! 
 
 
Not only do they come when I call, they also answer back! 
 
 
If I get too far ahead of them they really holler!  So.... what makes them come when they are called you ask?
 
That wonderful, luscious thing called grain!
 
 
So.... this was the plan:  The little girls and I would drive the Ranger and call the cows down to the corral where Eldon, our horse Promise, and Justus (our son-in-law) were waiting to calmly welcome the herd into the corral (where their grain was awaiting them)  and we would calmly close the gates behind them. 
 
 
Well, that mostly worked.  Except for one very big problem. 

 
Wise old cow #10 remembered what happened the last time all the calves were in the corral (the little bull calves became steers!).  So, she did some communication with all those (no longer little) calves and said, "You just stay right here with me and we'll go hide out in the woods".   And of course they listened to her. 
 
 
 
 
But Eldon and Promise (and Justus on foot) were able to go in the woods and bring them out, no problem.  Until they saw Andrea with the camera around her neck and her arms out, the little girls sitting in the Ranger, and me at the corral gate and ......
 
 
.... they turned tail and scattered into the woods!  Luckily we could all laugh because it really was quite funny.  They are pretty smart, those calves!

 
Well, I won't go into all the sweaty, exhausting details but you can picture it:  Justus running through the woods like a wild man,  Promise (with Eldon on her back) running through the woods like a wild horse, Andrea finally took the camera off her neck and became the wild woman running wherever the boys told her to, me manning the gate, and Jillian and Rosetta happy as can be watching it all!  After it was all over Jillian said "Mommy can run really fast"!  And Justus said, "I need my own horse"!  Eldon said, "I lost my hat somewhere".  I was just thankful my job was manning the gates!  And I think Andrea was too tired to talk!
 
 
The end result?  Success.  We were all so hot and exhausted we could hardly hold our heads up but we did it!  All heifers in their own new pasture now!
 
So.... how do you call your cows?  I grew up out West hearing my Dad call "Sook", out here in the South it is "Sook" with a strong drawl to it.  Some people whistle, some call"Calf", some holler "Bossy".  Whatever you choose to call them - they will come if there's grain in the picture! 
 
Whew...  I barely got this August Monthly Moos done before September.  Hope you are having a lovely Labor Day weekend!

 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Baking In The New Kitchen (and a Creatively Made Home Winner)

 
Today was the first day to make cookies in my new kitchen!  My grand-daughter, Jillian, spends Thursday afternoons with me now; we have a piano lesson and play some games.  Today we added cookies to mix of things to do!  Jillian helps her Mommy all the time so she can practically do it all on her own. 
 
I also thought you'd enjoy a glimpse of the open shelves Eldon put up for me this week where I get to display some of the kitchen things that I love so much! 
 
OH!  And the winner (finally) to the Creatively Made Home {Home For The Holidays} e-course is Cyndie!  Thanks to all that commented and if you'd like to purchase the course you can go to Andrea's blog and purchase it here
 
And now I need some help and advice.  My very old computer is on the glitch.  I'm ready to take the plunge and Eldon wants me to get an Apple this time.  I'm a little nervous to spend the money - not sure if its worth it - is Apple the way to go or not?  
 
Have a wonderful Labor Day Holiday! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

House On The Hilltop - Part Fourteen

Continued from House On The Hilltop - Part Thirteen

I'm excited that this is probably the last post on our farmhouse progress! We passed our final inspection and are moving in!  Can you believe it? In some ways it seems like it took us forever to build our home; in other ways it seems like it was incredibly fast. We still have closets that need shelves, a laundry room that needs shelves and a custom pantry cabinet, and my barn room upstairs that needs shelves in the built-ins, BUT those are all things we can now work on in our leisure while we enjoy living in our house! 



I'd like to tell you about our stairs.  There's a whole, whole, whole lot of stuff I've learned in building a house.  Way too much to even list, but I sure realized that I didn't know anything about stairs! 

 
For example, I learned the names of all the parts!  I also learned that every single thing about the stairs must be to the building code in your State as it is a huge safety factor - and in the final house inspection they will check everything about your stairs... and ignore other things that seemed way more important! 
 
 
With having an Engineer for a husband you can just imagine how much thought and work went into our stairs.  I was pretty much wondering why we thought we needed an upstairs! 
 
 
But, the biggest dilema of all for me was wondering what color to stain/paint the stringer, stain/paint the treads, stain/paint the risers, stain/paint the newell and the rail, and stain/paint the balusters!  This was the problem:  we have a lot of different woods in our house:  pine ceiling, birch butcher block counter tops, pine interior doors, oak beam and pillar (which the rail would actually attach to). Not to mention the driftwood laminate floor at the top of the stairs and the walnut laminate floor at the bottom! So how do you finish stairs when you have all those factors already in place? 
 

 
Its all about compromise and here it is:   white painted stringer to match the beadboard walls, walnut stained treads to match the flooring on the downstairs, white painted balusters to match the walls and the stringer, oak stained newell and rail to match the pillar, and white painted risers to give contrast.

 
When I first started staining the treads I got a little sick to my stomach - it seemed so dark and such a contrast to the oak that I thought it looked terrible.  Nothing to do but just proceed though. 
 
 
Then all of a sudden a really weird thing happened - I fell in love with them.  The overall look was so gorgeous that I decided all those crazy wood tones actually all went together beautifully.
 
 
Even tying the final riser into the driftwood laminate ended up looking just fine. 
 
 
The view from below.

 
The next big chore in recent weeks has been the interior doors.  Eldon was set on solid wood doors and I was set on the five panel old farmhouse look.   We ordered them, they were delivered and they were beautiful.  Somehow I guess I just didn't really let myself think about the amount of work that prepping, sanding, staining, varnishing, sanding, varnishing, sanding, varnishing, (and into infinity it seemed like) it would be.  It was ridiculous.  I think I could safely say it was the most tedious job I've done in the house!  

 
 But, the good news is that I finally finished, Eldon hung them all and they look great.  I'm so glad we went with the solid wood and I really love the look of the five panel.

 
 The hardware was installed on our vanities, as well as the vanity tops, sinks and faucets.  I had the latches and knobs put on both vanities and I really love the look. 

 
All floor board trim and final painting complete!

 
And finally? 
 
Here's a little glimpse of the bit of unpacking I've done in my kitchen.  I've got a lot more to do and I'm sure I'll be changing things up, because thats how I am unfortunately!  (Did you read my kitchen post?  You can catch it here if not.)
 
Because of living on a hill, we have to use a pump to get water up to our house.  We've had a water line and electrical line from the pump right to our travel trailer and now we are extending both lines to the house.  So today we got the water snubbed in and worked out a few kinks and Eldon will start on the pump electrical this week.  But the good thing is that it allows me time to move in slowly and really enjoy the process! 

 
I was pleasantly suprised at how much room there is in just one of the cabinets under my island!  I could fit this entire 16 place setting of my vintage Fiestaware in one cabinet. 
 
I want to give a big thank you to everyone that has read my blog and kept up with our farmhouse progress.  The emails and comments of encouragement mean a whole lot to us!  Oftentimes it is what has kept us trudging through! 

 
If you haven't entered my giveaway from last week's post, there's still 2 more days.  You can enter here by leaving a comment on the post.  And come back again next week as I want to tell you all about my Pfister kitchen faucet and I have a surprise give-away planned! 
 
Have a wonderful week! 
 
 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Creatively Made Home {Home For The Holidays}

 


I think most of my readers know that Andrea, from Keeping It Cozy, is my daughter. If you've been following her blog for long you know that she is an extremely talented and lovely young woman. I'm super excited because I get to share her fun news with you!


She, along with 8 other very talented women, will be teaching a wonderful e-course called
Creatively Made Home {Home for the Holidays}
In Andrea's words:
This course will be full of ideas, beauty, inspiration, joy and encouragement... it's about sharing the warmth of your home with family and friends. It's about creating beauty in little things, opening your home with hospitality, and welcoming others into the love of your family. It's about so much more than the contents of your home - it's about the contents of your heart. 
 
As Andrea's Mom, I've had fun getting an "insider's" look at the projects she'll be teaching in the course and you will love them.  
 
And she has told me that I can offer a free course to one of my amazing readers.  So.... 
 
   To enter, simply leave a comment on this post and I will randomly draw the winner next week.  If you purchase the class and then win, you can gift your spot to a friend!  (Please make sure that you provide me with your email address when you leave your comment so that I have a way to contact you if you win.)
 
 
Below are the important details of the class.  You can also visit Andrea's blog, Keeping It Cozy, for all the specifics - any questions you have about the course, how it works and what you get for your money is all answered on her blog! 
 
Register now and take advantge of the early registration price. 
 
 

WHAT IS INCLUDED
  • Each week you will have amazing truthful videos from the nine teachers.
  • There will be 30+ project videos.  These will be incredible videos that include everything from cooking, gift giving and decorating.
  • Tons of beautiful house photos from each of the nine women.
  • Supply lists and PDFs for each project.
  • A digital recipe book of the recipes shared in this course.
  • You will have access for one full year.
 
 The e-course will launch October 15.

Early registration is now open at a discounted rate of $48.

It will go to the regular price of $58 on August 26.  
 

CLICK BUTTON TO PAY FOR COURSE

Once you've paid, visit here to register (it's free) and create a login for the course. 


Thanks for sharing in this fun news and don't forget to enter for one free spot to the class by leaving a comment here! 
 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Butcher Block Counter Tops


UPDATE:  I've written an update on my butcher block counter tops - you can read it here.

I hesitated to even write this post about my counter tops because we were winging it the whole way and I don't want anyone to think this is a tutorial!  It is not!  However, I decided to just write it and share some of my thoughts and observations and a few of the things we did learn. 

We had some serious discussions about counter tops and what we should do. I kept leaning towards butcher block because of my daughter's counters that I love so much. However, I stayed open minded and read and researched everything.... and kept coming back to butcher block.


  So then, the hunt was on.  The tricky part was finding planks that were big enough for our island.  IKEA actually carried the large ones and luckily had what we needed in stock. 
Birch plank, right out of the box

I wanted to darken up the Birch planks but really wasn't exactly sure how to stain and finish them in a food safe way.  So back to the research I went!  It is amazing to me how helpful people can be and when I sent emails asking for help I always got quick and expert replies. 

Birch plank, heavily sanded with DeWalt Orbit Sander


Probably the advice that was the most helpful in directing me, was from a blogger who finished her butcher block with tung oil and she told me that over a year later, with just a little consistent oiling, her counter tops were more gorgeous than ever.  So, I sent an email to the company Real Milk Paint that sells natural paint and stain products, including tung oil.  They wrote me back the most informative email about why finishing butcher block counter tops with tung oil was the answer.  No stain, no varnish, no unsafe products, very little maintenance. 
I told them I wanted to darken my wood planks and was wondering about stain and they recommended Dark Tung Oil.  They also suggested that I use it along with a solvent to improve the penetration of the oil into the wood.  They carry an all natural, food safe solvent called Citrus Solvent made simply from citrus peel oil.  (This stuff is amazing.  For any of you that have ever done anything with solvents that smell and feel toxic on your hands...  you need to try Citrus Solvent.  It has such a pleasant odor and leaves no stinging feeling on your hands!) 

 

So, following their instructions and advice, I finished all the butcher block with Dark Tung Oil mixed 50% with Citrus Solvent.  It was the easiest process imaginable.  Apply, let it dry, rub it soft, repeat, stop the application when the oil no longer soaks in the wood.  It was recommended to me that I oil both top and bottom of the planks, so all this was done prior to installation, although Eldon had already cut the planks to size.


They took on a positively rich, beautiful finish.


So, the installation?  Well, this is where my amazing husband enters the picture.  Has he ever installed butcher block before?  No.  With just a little thinking and processing can he do it?  Yes.  Measure, set up straight edge...


... and cut. 


The tricky part was the island.  It required the three large planks, all cut differently and with a lot of calculating and figuring.  Very odd angles that needed to be mitered and fit perfectly together. 


Not to mention the trickiness of cutting faucet holes and cutting and fitting the farmhouse sink.  Eldon wants me to mention here that when it came to getting the rounded corners for the sink to fit perfectly he used a hole saw and then fine tuned it with a Farrier's rasp (a horse hoof trimming file)!  It worked excellent!  (Of course he just happened to have that on hand!). 


Once the island counter tops were in place and attached permanently then I sanded the mitered joints until they were smooth as silk.  This is what the wood looked like at that point, which sort of scared me.  However, I have learned from my daughter's counter tops that that is the joy of butcher block, it is very forgiving... sand out imperfections and oil them back to perfection!


And there it is.   Perfect!


Installing the counter tops on the other side of the kitchen was very straight forward.   They were just the standard size and the only cutting required was the lengths.  


I think they are beautiful.


I don't think anything else would've made me as happy as the butcher block and given me the farmhouse kitchen look that I wanted so badly.  I've been told many, many times by many people that butcher block gets prettier and prettier.  The more it is used, the slicker and glossier it gets! 

If you haven't read my full kichen post yet, you can read it here.

On the house this week:  I have my work cut out for me in sanding, staining and varnishing our solid wood five panel interior doors.  Eldon is multi-tasking plumbing and floor trim.  We are close my friends....  VERY CLOSE!!!