Vacation at the Yellow Cottage

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Several months ago Eldon and I went on a much needed vacation.  We were at a place in the house progress where we could get away and the cherry on top was that it was our 30th Anniversary!  Eldon had seen on the news, just out of the blue, an article about a town called Magnolia Springs in Alabama that is the last place in the United States to receive mail year-round via river delivery!  He read the article to me and it sounded very enchanting.  We filed it in the back of our heads and when we decided to get away for our Anniversary, Eldon remembered the town.  We did a google search and found a cottage to rent, we booked it and away we went. 

It was the sweetest place to stay.  Just a little old cottage with original hard wood floors, old doors, darling little kitchen and bathroom, fireplace, and front porch.  All the things I love in a little cottage!  Its always a little scary to rent something over the internet, pay your money, and then get an email that says:  "The key is on the back porch sitting inside the ceramic frog's mouth"!  We needn't have worried.  It was perfect. 

The first thing we did after unloading our car was to walk the block to the river and check out the canoe unloading point.  The little Magnolia Springs River was absolutely gorgeous. 

The cottage even had a canoe for us to use!

The community of Magnolia Springs was established in 1891 - it was named after the ever flowing springs and the towering canopy of Magnolia trees.  Some of the homes along the river are original to that time.

 Every house had a dock with a mailbox.  Even though we knew that was part of the history, it was still pretty cool to see that.  I wanted to see the mail boat come, but we didn't manage to time it right.

There were also some very, very old boats. 

The water was so calm and so clear that the reflection was beautiful.   It was perfect water for canoeing; not so much of a current that you couldn't turn around and canoe back!  We went until it widened way up and we could see that we were heading into Weeks Bay.  At that point I got scared and said, "take me back to the little yellow cottage"! 

Speaking of Weeks Bay.  I guess I failed to mention that Magnolia Springs is right on the Gulf Coast; just a very few short miles from the ocean.

Yep.  That ocean...  the one with the perfect crystal white sandy beaches! 

I'm getting ahead of myself.  I need to finish telling you about Magnolia Springs.  Just a block from the yellow cottage was the village market.  They sold a few simple groceries and had a wonderful restaurant next door called Jesse's. 

The little town had some very beautiful old buildings.  Gorgeous old Magnolia trees lined the streets.

And speaking of old buildings and architecture.... one day we drove across the Bay and walked miles around the downtown of Mobile.  It is a gorgeous old city.  We loved just walking and looking at the buildings.  I guess I never realized how old the city is.

I think our highlight of the day in Mobile was the A&M Peanut Shop.  They still roast peanuts from the old original roaster - it was almost like a museum inside the little shop.  We each got a bag of fresh roasted peanuts and snacked on them all day. 

 Eldon enjoyed his very first oyster for lunch; I passed!  But the ambiance of Wintzell's Oyster House was the best fun!

Have you heard of the island called Dauphin Island?  I've always loved the sound of it.  Well, here we are:  the second car on the ferry ready to explore the island and do some "shelling"! 

I've never been one to enjoy swimming or sunbathing, but I could walk the beach for miles and miles.  And we did.  We actually walked the beach til we came to the end of the island and could go no further.  I collected some very fun shells to take home to Jillian, my grand-daughter.

That's the end of our vacation in the little yellow cottage.  We went home revived and ready to get back to work on the house building again!  If you ever find yourself needing a quiet place to go and regroup - Magnolia Springs, Alabama is it!

(If you are interested in more information on this vacation rental you can click here.)

The House On the Hilltop - Part Six

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Continued from The House On the Hilltop - Part Five

Well, its official!  Insulation is complete! 

It was very exciting in the beginning...  I got to install almost all of the insulation that was under the eight to ten foot height.  It was very fun.  I thought about making it my day job.  I think I actually said to Eldon, "We could be insulation contractors and I could do it".  I'm not sure he answered me. 

Then....  it got a little harder.  See all those crazy angles in the dormer windows?  Took me hours to get those cut and installed to perfection.  (Not sure perfection was required - but it sort of reminded me of making a quilt and I thought it had to be perfect.)  I started getting a bit discouraged.  Just a bit.

Then this became my job.  We got the scaffolding in place and Eldon moved up to the third level of scaffolding to insulate the cathedral ceiling and I became "the person on the ground".  Sounds easy right?  I cut and cut and cut. 

And not only did I cut, but I had to carry the pieces up the three levels of scaffolding so Eldon didn't have to repeatedly come down to get them.  This was R38 insulation which means that it was 12 inches thick, which means that it was pretty heavy carrying up the side of scaffolding. 

I had piles like this all over the house.

I did feel sorry for Eldon being on top of that scaffolding twenty feet up in the air all day for three days in a row.  He was a good sport.  I was the one on the ground (and up and down the scaffolding) that was crying. 

But its done now and I survived.

This morning I cleaned every square inch of the place, and decided that I've kept this farmhouse under construction so clean that maybe that's what I should do for a day job:  clean houses under construction!  (smile!) 

Its done, its clean, it passed inspection and we are ready for sheet rock! 

The Ranch

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This is my parents ranch in New Mexico. It is where my mother was raised.  It is where I spent many, many weekends of my childhood.  If you look at the map of New Mexico, the ranch is located in the "boot hill" of New Mexico.  Recently, my husband and I went to spend some time with my parents and went to The Ranch for a few of those days.  My parents do not live here full-time, I guess you would call this their second home!
 As we drove along the dirt road to the ranch that was homesteaded by my grandparents before my mother was even born, the memories of my childhood were so overwhelming.  I remember my parents dropping us kids off with our bicycles and we rode them the rest of the way;  I remember sometimes the wind blowing so badly that all you could see was dust for miles and miles;  I remember my Grand-dad meeting us on his horse and letting me sit behind him on the saddle as we rode the rest of the way. 

This is the old house.  My grandmother and my grandfather built it when they were a newly married couple in the thirties.  It is built out of twelve inch thick adobe blocks.  It is amazing how warm and cozy this house is.  My grandparents have been gone for many years but when I stepped into the house it was like they were still there.  I love that my mother hasn't changed a single thing in the house. 

My grandmothers cast iron skillets, seasoned to perfection! 

This is the window above the kitchen sink.  Everything exactly how it was when my grandmother was alive.  From the mirror hanging to the old bottles to the ice pick sticking in the hole.  (Don't ask me why but that was always where the ice pick belonged!)  Notice the thick walls. 

I just loved being there and seeing all the old things that were my grandmothers'.  She didn't have much, or anything really special but it was her home and it was wonderful. 

My grandmother saved funny little things that we kids had given her and it was fun to dig around in the china cabinet and look at some of the little things. 

The coolest thing were the records, still in their rack next to the record player in the living room!  My Mom said, "We still listen to them"!

And that night we did!

Things were pretty much unchanged on the outside too.  The old water tank...

 and the tool shed...

the old wash buckets...

the classic tractors...

and the windmill.

The land is so dry and so dusty, it is hard to believe that anyone can still ranch there.  A person can look at my pictures and just get a feeling of remote, lonely and dreary.  I look at the pictures and I'm thankful for all the wonderful childhood memories of time with my grandparents there on The Ranch.  I'm thankful it is still in the family today.

These are my wonderful parents.  Mom is sorting ear tags and immunizations for the calves, Dad is getting branding equipment ready.  They are true blue New Mexico Ranchers! 

My mother wrote a book about her Mother's life in this area of New Mexico.  It is such a wonderful book full of history, pictures, letters, poems, and other memorabilia.  Click here for information about the book and how to order it. 

Hope you are having a wonderful week!

The Cows Come Home

Saturday, December 8, 2012

In the year that we've lived on our farm, we've just had steers.  And just a few steers at that.  The grass keeps growing, my husband keeps mowing, and we keep saying, "We need cows...  Momma cows"!

Well, we finally had time to get away from the house building to find some cows, buy them and bring them home.  Thirteen of them - and they are all bred which means that we can be watching for some babies within the next couple months.  

This one is my favorite.  Jillian and I named her Princess Kate.  

We got some black, a pretty old red, a couple white, and then Princess Kate and she is that pretty orangy color.  But there is something funny and that is that they seem to pair off by color.  Is that strange?  We unloaded them from the trailer and the black ones headed off up the hill. 

And there go the white and red.

Our horse, Promise (the Queen of the Hilltop) was pretty excited.  She had a real hard time containing herself!

We're excited to have cows grazing around the farm now.  We're all pretty happy to just stand around and watch them settle in to their new home.  

I know you're wondering where Belle was during all this time?  Well, she was like a little kid running around wagging her tail, grinning, jumping, and never stopping for a picture.  She had to go cool off in the pond from all the excitement.

And while Eldon was watching the cows, and Jillian and I were trying to name them, guess what Rosetta was doing?  She only had eyes for her Gramp and about every 10 seconds she was hollering "Grampie" in her little baby language!

Jillian and I are still trying to name them.  Have you got some great Momma Cow names for us?