30 July 2011

Rain Buckets

We are surviving the heat as best as we can down here.  It's sweltering and has been for some time.  We are going on day twenty something for triple digits. I'm busy painting the new house this weekend, but would love to be standing under these buckets. 

Wishing everyone a cool Saturday. 

28 July 2011

We're Moving

I think it's safe to say that most people have a back up plan for their life.  A dream plan at least.  The yearning to pack up and head for the hills in search of a more simple life.  My vision of a wild, free, indigo life, abundant with all things I love, has been in my heart for some time.  It has been hard to find it surrounded by concrete with no room to stretch and grow. 

About three months ago an opportunity came available that would allow us to live more of the life we wanted.  A beautiful house on a corner lot in a small country town.  It's full of natural light and charm.  Let's just say we know the owners very well and they were willing to give us a deal. 

There is no rhyme or reason for the move other than the longing to set roots in a place that feels like home already.  We are shedding light on our dreams.  We weighed the pros and cons for weeks. 

*loads of outdoor space
*farther distance between the us and the neighbors
*the view is greenspace
*there is a front porch and a back porch
*natural light in the entire house
*we can make it our own
*we know people in the community
*closer to family
*my favorite little people will be neighbors
*farther out of the city
*small town
*downsizing (minimalism)
*more affordable

*we add 20 minutes to the commute making it a 40 minute drive to work
*benefits of the city (markets, movies, eateries) are not as accessible
* putting our current house on the market at a bad time
*there are several renovation projects
The lists could go on forever, but in the end the pro list won.  It would have been easier to say no, keeping the idea dormant for a while longer.  We are comfortable where we are, and there is something to be said for that.  There is a lot of work involved, but dreams are not comfortable, they're daring.  And so we decided to take the leap and continue to build our life in a quiet, cozy neighborhood. 

This is our lemonade:  plans for large gardens, hen houses, a community of friends, family close by, and plenty of space to grow.  Why wait for that? 

20 July 2011

Perfect Day Top 10 Favorites

Back in May, Lillian over at Unstiched posted about her perfect day in this post.  I've been thinking about it every since.  What would the perfect day look like?  She talks about weeding through the details to find what is most important.  Whatever that is to you, it should make it on the list.  It comes down to finding value in what you love about your life. 

I've been making several lists, each one looking a little different, but they keep coming back to a general theme:  love of nature, good food, and doing something meaningful with those I love.  I've narrowed the lists to my top ten favorites.    

After doing this exercise I realized that living the perfect day every day would require some major changes.  For starters, it would be hard to perfect this day in the city. One of the many reasons we are moving is to live more of the life we want, and I'm looking forward to unfolding some of those details for you. 

Some of these things I have no control over, like the weather, but it's fun to dream.  What would make it on your list? Feel free to share below or over at Unstiched.  Thanks Lillian, for the inspiration.

18 July 2011

Great Aunt Linnie's Chocolate Drop Cookies

My favorite little people came over for a visit on Sunday afternoon.  It was too hot to spend any time outdoors so after our nap we did the next best thing: bake chocolate cookies.  This is a recipe from their great, great aunt Linnie that their Aunt Kiki has perfected.  Someday they'll appreciate the story behind them, but today, just the taste of these morsels is enough. 

Cookie making is a tradition we have started in our home when they come over.  There is something magical to me about traditions. They make me feel rooted in place and somehow make time more meaningful.  Especially when using a recipe so dear to the heart of the family.  It looks a little different each time, but the act of baking is always the same.  As they get older they get a little more independent.

I like these cookies best with peanut butter chips, but the girls prefer them plain, so that is how they were made.  They are utterly delicious on their own and truly don't need anything added.

We've found that if you slightly under cook them and put them in the freezer they are just as good as fresh out of the oven.  A trick I didn't want to discover because this only means making more in order to freeze and that only leads to eating more. 

This is as far as I got with the photos.  Once they came out of the oven they were already in our bellies.  After we were stuffed with chocolate, we moved on to watercolor painting.  These are my favorite Sundays.  

Great Aunt Linnie's Chocolate Drop Cookies

1 cup crisco
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa

Cream the crisco and sugars and then blend in 2 eggs.  Mix in the dry ingredients until blended.  Drop on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 6-9 minutes. 

Optional add ins: peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, toffee chips, butterscotch chips, marshmellows, carmel

Thanks cc for sharing your special recipe

15 July 2011

South Loop River Blues Festival

Every year the adults of my family attend the South Loop River Blues Festival in Arnold, Nebraska.  We bring two RV's, put them side by side and set up tent city for the weekend.  I typically don't attend because of bad timing, but this year I decided to surprise them and show up after all. 

I have five brothers and sisters and they all come with their spouses except for one.  (My brother is a farmer and taking off a weekend in summer just isn't possible.)  This is camping at it's finest.  For starters, we are at the baseball field because this is where the festival is held.  The stage covers home plate.  Hundreds of people bring their campers and tents and stay all weekend for the great music.  We go beyond the basics and bring grills, fryers, fly repellent, tarps, lounge chairs, turf, rugs, generators, a propane campfire, and about 20 coolers.
This weekend is not all about music though.  A few years ago, my mom started the family cook off at the festival. After trying to figure out who would be making lunch she decided to make it a competition. It has grown to include t-shirts and a traveling trophy that is engraved each year.

Sometimes there are outside judges that we bribe with food and cold beer to do the judging for us, but most times we judge our own. This can be a problem at times because we are always trying to out do another family member by finding loop holes in the rules. We somehow always find a cheater.

The cook off is a different food category every year. For 2011 it happened to be hot dogs. Not just any hot dog though. The official, all beef, hot dog of the Nebraska Cornhuskers made right in Nebraska. The cook off part was to step up the hot dog.

There was some fierce competition. We had an Italian dog, two types of BBQ dogs with cider sauce and pimento cheese, and a spicy pepper mango dog wrapped in bacon and a poblano pepper. However, the trophy went to my sister and her best friend for their "Fire In the Aioli" dog.

This is them being presented by last years winners, my sister and her husband.  Notice their t-shirts and the traveling trophy.  Their hot dog was deep fat fried goodness to the max.

It was aptly named after how it would feel later on.  First they cut out the hot dog and layered fresh jalapeno cream cheese in the center of the dog.  Then they wrapped it in bacon.  Next they dipped it in my my mom's famous beer batter and deep fat fried it.  Once it was on the bun they added a spicy aioli sauce on top of it as their condiment.  Holy mother of hot dog it was good.  I think this should be the new fried food at the Texas State Fair!  They blew away the competition this year with most of the top votes. 

Only after our bellies are full, we head over to the ball field to enjoy some blues music.  My favorite this year was the Kris Lagar Band.  Kris has an awesome voice and the rest of the band has mad musical skills.  You can check out their music on itunes.   

{image via Blues Festival website}
We ended up dancing into the heat of the night and went to bed happy.  It's so much fun to slow down for a weekend of good laughs with those you love. 

Do you have any family traditions or competitions?

12 July 2011

Road Trip: Arnold, Nebraska

This past weekend I took a very quick trip home to see my family.  It was a surprise visit.  We were in a small town in the sandhills that holds all the rural charm of a sleepy Midwest town.  Of course I didn't get any photos of the sandhills themselves.  What my eye sees doesn't exactly replicate on camera.  They are a sight though, and one of my favorite locations to unwind.  For miles all you can see are rolling hills of prairie grasses.  An occasional oak tree and cottonwoods around the water sources.  Cattle graze through the day until the stars are exposed in the blackest sky at night.  You can hear the sound of a grasshopper chomping on a leaf, it's so quiet. 

Here are a few shots my from walk downtown.

Their movie theatre where only two movies are playing.
You can have lunch at the antique store.
I would love to see this sign in my house, but it didn't fit in my suitcase.
The owner had an old telephone booth in the corner.  Nothing fancy, but I found these neat signs when I opened the door.
I love old cash registers.  They used to be a piece of art in themselves. This one was the size of a large piece of furniture. It would take several people to move it.  The buttons were fascinating. 

There are many times I wish to be living in a small town such as this, but that would mean not living the life I have now.  I suppose that's why it's always fun to travel.  I get the best of both worlds. 

07 July 2011

Meet Lucy

Lucy is my new ride.  She was found abandoned at the farm with her mate.  (Yes, matching his and hers Schwinn collegiate bikes!)  Her wheels were dilapidated, but her frame was fairly impeccable considering the neglect.  After acquiring new wheels and little cosmetic surgery she is up and running.  Ready for a stroll to the pool, movie theater or the coffee house. 

She couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time.  I'm ready to sink into the lazy days of summer now that the crazy month of June is over.  As much as I have on my to-do list I'm trying to make a conscientious effort not to overdo it.  I have a tendency to be very driven and focused until a job is done, much to my detriment.  It can't all get done today, so why not enjoy a free moment now and then.  Lucy is the perfect catalyst.  

My next project will be to find Lucy a basket, but a regular bike basket like Dorothy's won't cut it.  I stumbled across the idea below in the Martha Stewart March issue, and I think an old mailbox suits her personality best.  I cut it out and saved for my fun idea file not thinking I would ever need it.  Now I'll be on the hunt to save an old mailbox from the landfill.

What do you think?

image from MarthaStewart.com

06 July 2011

Backyard Garden: Crying Onions

This is a bittersweet harvest of the onions from my garden.  I had to take them early in order to remove the garden to put the house on the market.  They will be hung to dry by their stems in the garage.  Then they will the moved to the pantry for storage until use in a recipe.  I think they will be delicious in a frittata.

01 July 2011

Two of Life's Splendid Truths

I'm taking a quick break to pop in and share some thoughts.  It's been an intense week and my emotions are a little on the fritz.  I suppose it doesn't help to have a nasty summer cold keeping me under the weather and in a deep mood.  A few recent events have been a catalyst for self depraving thoughts.  As I've been wallowing in it, the universe decided to throw water in my face by reminding me of two of life's truths that are all too easy to forget.


My brother, ever the champion for finding the silver lining, got the brunt of my mood this week.  After a long phone call of brain dumping, whining about judgmental people and wondering why I have to deal with the negative emotions of others, he simple said, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it."  Clearly he didn't get it.  It is broke.  My feelings are hurt, I'm mad, and he is telling me not to fix it.  I wondered why I had called him.  He went on and I soon realized, I was the one that didn't get it.  He meant my life.  MY life, not everyone else trying to throw out their rope to bring me down.  I can't fix them and in so many words, he told me that wasn't the point.  

The truth is, my life is pretty good and with many blessings.  Despite what judgement is cast my way, I have nothing to fix.  I am happier than ever before but yet I've been investing so much time and energy on fixing something that isn't even broken instead of living my life and enjoying it for what it is.  Seriously, if it isn't broke, don't fix it.


It hasn't been all that peachy this week.  The words from my brother were filed in the back of my mind for future pondering.  This week, I just wanted to be petty.  To play on the same level and use my words as weapons.  Ten years ago I more than likely would have.  I grew up crabby with a temper but thankfully it has curbed somewhat since then.  A mentor once taught me the valuable lesson of leaving your legacy. In business, how you treat others will affect the outcome of your career.  This of course, can be applied to life as well.  It's like a boomerang.  You throw out positive vibes and you get the same thing in return.  I'm reminding myself that what others do or say is no excuse for me to act in the same way.  I don't want that to be my legacy.  

To top it off, for good measure, the universe decided to drive home the point about being good and I got an email about an opportunity from someone I helped long ago.  Good comes around.


I love when things happen this way.  Just when life feels a little sour, messages come that make you feel silly for being so dramatic in the first place.  It can only happen when you're in tune with it, and sometimes that is the hard part. 

I'm heading back to work and feeling much lighter and grateful for the reminder of these truths.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend filled with goodness.