January Monthly Moos {The Ever Changing Hilltop}

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This is what greeted us this morning when we opened our bedroom curtains.  We have fog quite frequently but our house is always above it!  It's a great way to wake up, lemme tell ya!

The view in the above picture is looking over to the little neighborhood where our daughter lives.  We can have sunshine on the hilltop and they are sitting in heavy fog! 

We love that we have a great view of the changing seasons (and the incoming storms!)

The top of our Hilltop is a perfect vantage point for watching the cotton fields being harvested in the fall.

And even though the view in the fall is beyond beautiful with the changing colors of the leaves...

 ...and the view in the winter is amazing because you can see so far (and the only time of the year you can see our driveway through the woods!)... 

...my favorite time on the Hilltop is by far the summer.  

There is something about all the thick green trees that give me a feeling of comfort.  The temperature rises and the air is heavy with humidity but the breeze on our hilltop is the best feeling ever!  

Summer on the Hilltop calls for Jillian and Belle playing frisbee...

... and flying kites.

Can you tell I'm ready for summer?  (Big smile!)  

Things on the farm have been slow this month; not too much to "moo" about!  

Hope you are having a happy January!  

Home-Made Iron On Wall Art

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I actually love words, and have from the time I was a very little girl.  If you visit my parents home and open up any of my old childhood books you will see where, from the time I was first learning to write, I scribbled words!  Imagine how excited I was many years ago when they came out with word art for walls!  And signs?  Oh my goodness do I love signs.  Eldon told me once many years ago that if I put up one more sign or decorative word on the walls he was pulling them down! 

So you can imagine my surprise (and excitement) when I was loudly pondering the slanted ceiling/walls in the Barn Room and WHAT does a person put there when you can't exactly hang anything and Eldon said, "How about some of those adhesive words you used to put on the walls in our old house"?  I tried to act like I would just think about it (smile!), but my heart was sort of racing as I began to do a very rapid internet search on ordering word art.  

What I came up with was not too exciting, sort of expensive, and not exactly what I was looking for.  I had the thought of using scrap book paper and my Cricut and cutting some letters and somehow adhering them to the walls without damaging the wall finish - and just like that I had a brainstorm.  

What if I tried the double sided heat bond, used fabric instead of paper and ironed it to the wall?  I was mainly worried about what would happen to the finish if I decided down the road that I no longer want the words on the walls.  So, I experimented in an area where it wouldn't matter if I had to do a little sheet rock repair and ironed a small bit of fabric onto the wall.  I let it sit for awhile til it was completely cool and then I took a blow dyer, heated it back up until it was warm and then gently removed it.  It slid right off and didn't leave even a tiny blemish.    So, thus began the journey into my home-made wall art.  

I promised last week that I would share how I did it.  So, here it is!

You will need to buy some of the Heat Bond - it is basically double sided interfacing - you can buy it anywhere fabric is sold.  (They used to call it Wonder Under!)  

Sort through your fabric scrap stash and choose some fabric that you want to use for your word.  You can use the same fabric, coordinating fabrics, or just a hodge podge.   Determine the size of your letters and roughly cut a square of fabric a bit larger than the size you want your letter.  Cut the same size square out of your heat bond.

Iron your heat bond to the back side of your fabric scrap.

Now, if you have a Cricut then this is the easy, peasy part.  If you do not have a Cricut, this part will be a little trickier.  I happen to have a Cricut so I chose my font, my letter size, placed my fabric (with heat bond on the back) on the adhesive matt, selected the deepest cut on the blade and hit "cut".    (If you do not have a Cricut.... go buy one! Or I guess just free hand your letters and cut around them.)

Thats one of my letters after I cut it on the Cricut and then pulled the extra fabric away.  

Now, determine where on the wall you want your letters to be.  Take a pencil and very lightly mark the height where you want the bottom of your word to sit.  Then measure the width of your area and lightly mark the center.  I started with the middle letters of my word and moved to the outside letters; that way it was perfectly centered.  

To get each letter to adhere, remove the heat bond backing from the letter and then place it on the wall adjusting it til you get it in the exact position you want.  Then with your other hand grab a piece of printer paper (I held it between my teeth while I got my letter situated!)  Take this piece of paper and put it over the letter, grab your iron (I was standing on a stool and had my iron all plugged in and ready on the iron board next to me) and iron over the paper, adhering the letter to the wall.  This way the iron doesn't actually touch the finish on your wall.    If any of your pencil marks show, you can gently erase them with a pencil eraser.  

And there you have it!  Home-made word art for your walls!!!  This is a very fun, fast, easy, and cheap do it yourself project!  Also a great idea if you are living in a rental house and can't paint!

A little side note:   I thought I was so very creative in coming up with this project.  Then, for fun I googled "ironing letters onto a wall" and found out that low and behold I didn't invent this - many people in blog land have done it before!  

The sun is shining here today and I'm excited to get back into my speed walking, after several days of bitter windy cold.  Its not too far to my daughter's house (about 2 miles) but its all uphill on the return - and I do mean UP HILL, so its a good work out in this winter weather! 

 Hope your week has been great!

Comfort Food {Tacos}

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

com·fort food
  1. 1.  food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being and often associated with childhood or home cooking.

Do you have a favorite comfort food?  Mine is tacos.  All my family knows that when I start cooking tacos there's something going on inside me!  Its never anything very big; today I needed tacos because this utterly miserable cold weather has me in a slump!  

Here's a little back-story on why tacos are comfort food to me.   I grew up in New Mexico; my parents are still there on the home place where I was raised.   My mother cooked a huge pot of pinto beans at least once a week and we ate them with numerous meals.  We had tacos frequently.    We kids loved tacos.  Mom had to cook several platters as we would actually compete on who could eat the most tacos - and there were four of us kids!  My older brother always won, but I was usually a close second!  So, to me tacos are home, my momma and daddy, my siblings - all the things that bring comfort when I think of them.   (My Mom still cooks the very best tacos in the world and if she reads this blog post she's going to roll her eyes!)  

So I decided today to share with you how we cook our tacos.  

Start with a pound of really high quality ground beef.  We are lucky to raise our own so mine is a grass fed, low fat ground.  Throw it in a cast iron skillet and cook on medium heat.

Using a fork, break up the meat into very small clumps.  

Season with salt, pepper and cumin.  Sometimes I add a little minced garlic.   We do not, ever, season with taco seasoning, chile powder, or anything remotely tasting like Taco Bell.  EVER.   That just isn't the read deal!  (If you have ground beef with a lot of fat, strain that off now.)

Now for your corn tortillas.  You do not use the pre-cooked crispy shells like Taco Bell.  You buy the corn tortillas in the bag that you can find in Walmart with the flour tortillas.   The brand that I like the best are the Mission.  

(Side note:  We live in Tennessee now and when we first moved here I almost had heart failure the first time I went to buy corn tortillas.  There were none to be found in our little town.   We weren't here long before I found a little Mexican store in a nearby town that makes fresh corn tortillas every Sunday.  You can be sure that is a Sunday routine for me- stop and get my tortillas for the week!  Our Walmart does carry them now and when I'm out - like today - I do buy the Mission tortillas.)  

Put a little oil in another cast iron skillet.  My mother always uses lard (that is a real staple for every true blue mexican food cook).  But I have changed a lot in how we eat and I have found that grape seed oil is a great taco making oil.   You don't need a lot - I just drizzle it in the skillet.   Heat on medium til slightly sizzling.

Add your first tortilla and let it cook for a minute or so until is starts to bubble up like the picture above.  No need to turn it over, as you won't need to cook what will become the inside of the taco.

Add a couple tablespoons of the cooked meat to one half of the tortilla.  

Fold the tortilla over and cook a minute or so, then flip it and cook the other side.  You just want it barely brown - more like a golden color than a brown.  

You can have several stages of tacos cooking in the skillet at the same time.  When one is done, remove it from the skillet and stack next to each other on a plate.   Continue making tacos until all your meat is gone.  

Thats about the golden color that you want them to be.  Now, I will say that I have many many times cooked tacos without any oil - basically just grilled them in the skillet.  They are very good and taste wonderful.  They don't; however, have the crunchy comfort feel that I love so much!  And today these tacos were all about comfort!!

While I'm cooking the tacos I'm dicing onions, chopping tomatoes, thinly shredding lettuce, grating cheese (yes, you want fresh grated cheese and not that horrible bagged stuff!), and taco sauce.   Some people like olives, avocados, sour cream but we never did so I never find myself really wanting any of that on my taco.

Fill your tacos up and sit down and eat!  

I am so weird that I even love cold tacos.  So when we've eaten out fill, if there are any tacos left over I go ahead and stuff them with the fixin's, wrap in foil and have them the next day for breakfast.   Some people like cold pizza.  I like cold tacos!  

I'm all better now.  Had my comfort food fix (four of them!) and I'm headed down to see my precious grand girls and get my other comfort fix.  The weather is supposed to begin warming up tomorrow so things are really looking up!

Hope you are surviving this cold snap and keeping your spirits up.  I've love to hear what your favorite comfort food is and why!  

P.S.  Come back in a few days for the tutorial on my wall word art that I promised you.  

The Barn Room

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome to my Barn Room!

Standing in the Living Room, this is the view of the Barn Room above.  I love the old quilt that was given to me that I have hanging on the stair rail.   I also love that you can see upstairs, but yet I can have the biggest sewing and crafting mess up there and you can't see it from the rest of the house!

This is the little landing area as you come up the stairs.  The antique school desk that was given to me by my son and daughter in law fits perfectly here.  The grand-girls love it!  I also have an old window shutter standing there behind the desk.  I have some of my favorite black and white photos clipped on it.  

Eldon custom built the barn door to fit this doorway that leads to our furnace room.  I love the door!  

I have my office space tucked into this corner and it fits great.  The farmhouse table was a gift to me from my daughter.  She used to have it in her kitchen, but when they did some remodeling it didn't work any more.  I love having it for my desk!  

I have an old picket fence given to me years ago by a dear friend and I've hung it on the wall behind my desk.  It works great for clipping special pictures, drawings given to me by my grand-girls, and other keepsakes.  

I think it is one of the things that makes me the happiest in the room!  

To the left of my office corner Eldon built this wonderful set of double barn doors for the little room that holds our hot water tank and water pressure tank.  I love the doors.   

Standing next to my little office corner on the right this is what you see.  The large book shelf on rollers on the back wall was built by Eldon's dad about 40 years ago.  I plan to paint it but I'm undecided on the color.  I love it for several reasons; sentimental ones for sure but also because it holds all my fabric and sewing things.  

I can really pack the stuff in it!  The jars on the top shelf hold my thread, ribbons and sewing notions. I love the ammo boxes that my daughter's father in law gave me.  (Remember the one I restored for my living room coffee table?)  They are great for holding patterns and crafting books and I can just pull them off the shelf to sort through them if I need to.  The bottom cupboards (doors are open in the above picture) hold all my fabric.   I can cram stuff in there and just close the doors!  

The other half of the shelf holds my vintage button tins, metal baskets with fabric scraps and craft projects in progress!  I love the framed crewel artwork that was a gift to me from my cousin.  Its going to have a more permanent dwelling soon but right now its hiding an unfinished door behind the bookshelf!  (If you look closely you can see the particle board door behind the shelf.  It goes into some nice attic space that we use for storage.  Eldon will be building a little barn door there.)

Also on the back wall is this table that used to be in the kitchen of our old house.   My sewing machine has a permanent dwelling place on the table, the lighting is fabulous with the lights on the back wall as well as can lights in the ceiling (not visible in this picture).  This is where Jillian and Rosetta do their art work, puzzles, crafts, create amazing things, and make messes!  And we don't have to worry about cleaning it up!  Eventually those open built-ins in the corner will have shelves for my paper crafting supplies and will have little barn doors so that I can close up the mess!  

The dormer window area (next to our CREATE corner) is where the grand-girls keep their toys.  I could not manage to get a picture of that area as the light was so bright from the window!  It makes the greatest little play area.  I have a few fun ideas for window seats and shelves dancing around in my head but haven't managed to quite get it figured out yet.  

This is one of the walls in the dormer window play area.  

This is the view of the READ area from the back wall.  My vision for this area was a comfortable reading nook.  Eldon will be building open book shelves in the built-ins.  We purchased the love seat couches about a hundred years ago and I love them because they are small, comfortable and fold out into twin size beds.  The old quilts on the backs of the couches were gifts.  

This little table was in major need of repair and I painted it Annie Sloan Emporers Silk with dark wax.  I love how well it works here between the couches.

We have a lot of favorite rooms in our house; but this one rates up there as one of our favorites!  It is warm, cozy, happy, and fun!

P.S.   In case any of my readers are wondering about the word art on the walls?  I made those and will have a tutorial up on that soon.   

Happy New Year to all of you!