Oh, Hey, Blog

Well, hey there! Remember me? Yeah, it’s been awhile. Things have been crazy here living the city life in the country. We’ve done some pretty major renovations on the house which I do plan to share at some point. I am also now working from home full time which has been so awesome and also taking some major getting used to. I decided to take the plunge and got certified in Holy Yoga. And did I mentioned we went to IRELAND?!?! Yeah, it’s been a crazy few months.

So what now? Thanks to the best friend, I’m refocusing on blogging and more importantly on my 101 list and intentional living in general. Here’s what you have to look forward to on the blog in the coming months.

  1. A wardrobe challenge. The best friend challenged me to create a capsule wardrobe. Hmm… I’ll let you know how that’s working out (or not working out) and where it’s brought me.
  2. House before and after. This old house has officially become our home and I love, love, love it. We still have a few things we would like to do, but some of the major things are complete and I can’t wait to show off the before and afters.
  3. An intentional space. I’m really excited to get back into blogging and sharing with the world (hello, world, are you there?). I hope that refocusing my life and the blog I can create an intentional space for you (whoever you may be) to come and stay awhile.

So come back and visit. Fun times ahead!

Freshening Up the 101 List for the New Year

This time last year, the best friend and I embarked on a third 101 list. These lists contain 101 things that we would like to complete or accomplish in 1,001 days. It’s hard to believe that our first list started almost seven years ago, and to think back on what it contained almost makes me laugh. It is so amazing how far we have come and how our lives have changed over those years and those lists.

When I started this list, I knew it was going to be different. Of course the items on it were very different in the past (hello, marriage and homeownership), but there was something deeper than that. I started the list last year and got about 80 or so items down. I wasn’t sure where to go from there. And now, I am glad I waited to complete the list itself.

I have crossed several things off the list in the past year, but I knew there was something else that needed to happen. I reorganized the list and finished up typing the last of the “tasks.” But now it looks slightly different. All of the items are organized into five categories, five desires for my life. I realized that I didn’t want just another to do list for the next couple years, I wanted to go deeper. So I really searched my heart for why I had certain things on my list and what they meant for my life. It helped to delete a few things that really had no value for me (and therefore would probably never get done) and add some things that really mattered for my life.

My five categories are: abundant love, mindful intelligence, graceful strength, passionate creativity, and simple clarity. These five desires really encompass what I want for my life and, interestingly enough, encompassed almost all the items on my list quite easily. If you click over to my list, you might be a little confused about why certain things are in a particular category. And it may seem a stretch. However, if I looked deeply into why I wanted to do something or accomplish or try a particular thing, there was a deeper reason. For example, learning to tie a tie in abundant love? Huh? Well, I love to do things for my husband. I love to be near him and share simple acts. Getting ready for a fancy evening and helping to tie his tie may seem silly, but hello, have you ever watched a romance movie??? I also have put some volunteering activities in this category, because to me, abundant love is not just for my husband, but self-love, love for my family and friends, and love for people I don’t even know.

If you have a 101 list, or just a list of new year’s resolutions, I encourage you look deeper into the why. Check out Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map, or the numerous intention-focused resources out there. And please, feel free to share how you are approaching the new year mindfully. I’d love to hear from you!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

It’s November. But, the weather seems to think it’s mid-January. The temperature is actually down to the teens, the teens! I just finished throwing sheets on top of the cabbages and closing the chicken coop door. So, now I get to enjoy the frigid evening from the warmth of my cozy house.

The first step, fleece pants. I am not sure who decided it would be a good idea to make pants out of fleece material, but oh my goodness thank you. I picked up these pants on a whim a few weeks ago and it might be my favorite purchase of the season.

The next step, chili dinner. I never ate much chili til I met the husband. It is now one of our go to dinners, especially this time of year. I love it for many reasons. It is easy to make a pile of it for a ton of people, or to eat leftovers for days. And, you can do so much with it. Spoon it into a bowl and a call it a day, or top a potato, try it with a side of cornbread, mix it with pasta, the possibilities are endless. We don’t get too adventurous with our chili, which is another reason I love it. With just a few ingredients (many that we keep on hand) you’ve got a great dish perfect for a cold night.

That of course leads us to dessert. Tonight that will be these pumpkin oat chocolate chip cookies. My first inclination was that this was trying to do too many things in one cookie, but after the first bite, I quickly took that back. These are delicious. Yum.

If I had a fire place there’d be a log on the fire right now. Instead, the dog and I are going to snuggle in and try to stay warm.

Make Your Garden Last: Plant for the Season

Let me preface this post by saying, that before becoming a country wife I knew next nothing about growing a successful veggie garden. So, this post may be a bit too elementary for you more seasoned (pun intended) gardeners.

When fall started to set in here in the valley, I wrongly assume that it was harvest time, and the end of all gardening. The tomatoes plants were starting to die, the corn stalks had dried up, and just about everything else had stopped producing. So, from afar, our garden my look pretty much done.

Wrong! Just as our summer veggies were nearing their end, we started planting again. And now, we are currently getting a lovely crop of kale and the cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage are just starting to become recognizable. Yes, we are enjoying different types of vegetables now, but that almost makes it more exciting.

cabbage cauliflower

kaleIt is really important to know your climate, know how your seasons run, and know what plants will do best at what times. Some things need to be planted super early, like our fledgling asparagus that currently resemble Charlie Brown Christmas trees. Others get planted in the first warm days of spring. Some plants can get planted again and again, like green beans and corn (of which we had three different cycles). And then, others, get planted and harvested late in the season. So do a little research. This could be as easy as talking to someone at your local greenhouse. It’ll save you time and possibly money to know what will work best and when.

Cooking with these fresh veggies has become so enjoyable for me. First, it’s awesome to just walk outside and grab a handful of whatever ingredients I may need without running to the store. Second, it’s just healthy which is something the husband and I are trying to be more mindful of. And, it’s just fun trying new recipes and new tastes! Here are a few of my favorite kale, broccoli, cauliflower recipes.

The Pioneer Woman’s Kale and Pasta Salad. I pretty much love everything Ree makes, so this was no shocker. But it has been a fan favorite not just in our house, but also at various parties I’ve taken this dish.

Mashed Cauliflower. I can’t remember the exact recipe I used but this looks similar and equally delicious.

Simple Green Beans. I like my beans super simple. Toss some olive oil and a little butter into a pan with some minced garlic (you can cheat and use garlic powder instead but I warn you it’s just not quite the same). Once that is getting nice and warm toss in your fresh beans that have been cleaned and snapped. Add some seasoned salt and just let them simmer, tossing occasionally til they start to get wilty and even a little charred looking. Yum.

Surviving a Long Commute

Over the last few months I’ve had some major changes in the career area of my life. Most recently, I’ve taken on a temporary position with an association that I worked for before I moved to the country. I could not be more excited to be back working with such awesome people and for an organization that I am deeply passionate about.

This means, however, that I have to commute back to the city a few days a week. I did a similar commute when I first got married and was finishing grad school, but that was in the evenings so I didn’t face the traffic of a normal drive into the city.

Monday was my first day, and I left super early to ensure I could stop at Starbucks would arrive at work on time. I am pleased to say, that the drive was better than I anticipated. I left the house before the chickens were up and my headlights cast shadows over the mounds of sleeping cows. By the time I got home, I was pretty tired. But, I survived. And here are some of my tips.

1. Bring some entertainment. Whether it’s your favorite morning show or an audio book, bring along something to keep you occupied. I’m currently listening to a book that made me want to sit in the parking garage before going into the office. I also feel like having an audio book makes the drive feel productive rather than wasted time.

2. Stay hydrated. Don’t forget to pick up that skim, no water, chai latte with a pump of pumpkin spice (yay, fall!). Ok, not really. But do keep some water with you. There’s a fine balance here, because if you are like me, over hydration + traffic = unpleasantness. So know your limits, and bring some water to get those important hydrating ounces during your drive.

3. Plan ahead. Your commute is going to cut into the rest of your day. So plan ahead. The husband and I sat down on Sunday and planned out our meals, did all our grocery shopping and prep and then packed up a few days worth. It was so easy to just grab and go in the morning and then get home knowing that I just needed to heat up something already made. It is so easy to just head to the drive thru when you’re commuting, but some pre-planning can help you stay on track. I also laid out all my clothes the night before, giving me one less thing to worry about in the morning.

4. Be positive. I’ll be honest, commuting sucks. It’s not good for the environment and it’s really not good for our bodies. But, if it is where you are in your life right now, then embrace it. As one of my good friends often says, bloom where you are planted. And if you are planted on miles of asphalt between the mountains and the city, then let that beautiful flower shine! I left the house super early, but it meant that I got to watch the sun rise over the mountains. I got to watch the transformation and all the while I was so thankful for that moment of beauty. Cheesy? Maybe. But, so true.

Do you have a commute? What are your strategies for staying sane?

 

The Chickens Have Returned

When we bought our house last year, the previous owners asked if they could come get their chickens the weekend following our closing. We had no problem with this and assumed when they said “get their chickens” it mean taking the coop in which said chickens lived. So there we were that Saturday, my husband and I and a few of his amazing family members, moving boxes into our new old house, when the previous owners showed up. They were very nice and drove around to the back of the house. As they pulled away my husband’s brother started exclaiming “They left the coop! You can have chickens!”

As the name of the blog implies, I am no country girl.I knew next to nothing about chickens. But I do know what a rooster sounds like. So, when I woke up the next morning to a loud crowing sound, I sent the husband outside to investigate. Apparently, the husband’s brother (did I mention he is a huge practical joker?) had snuck in during the night and delivered a housewarming present consisting of several chickens and two roosters.

And thus, we became chicken people. And I loved it!

We had to send the chickens to husband’s cousin’s farm  so we could complete a demolition project near to where the coop was located (I do plan to share some of these projects on here). We had all intentions to relocate the coop and get some new chickens. So, I figured before that happened, I should have a better idea of what to do with these critters.

IMG_1115I read Keeping Chickens and The Joy of Keeping Chickens. I learned a good bit from each but Keeping Chickens was definitely my favorite and I’ve even considered buying it to keep for reference. I would highly recommend it if you are considering getting chickens or already have them.

The husband’s cousin picked out the type of chickens for us. We have four chickens of two types and all will lay normal-sized white eggs (our original chickens laid small, bluish-green eggs). I would love to raise some chickens from eggs, but that is a project for another year.

IMG_1112

Sophie is not so sure what to think of these new additions. But she has been very good and the chickens don’t seem to mind her. I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from our chicken adventures and the many egg recipes we try over the next few months.

Make Your Garden Last: Pickling

When the husband and I were house hunting, we always kept an eye out for a good garden spot. So, I was super excited when planting time came around this year and we were able to have our very own garden for the first time. It wasn’t the easiest year between the winter that went on forever and the nasty hail storms that came when summer finally rolled in, but we made it.

Gardening is appealing to me on many levels, first you have the fresh fruits and vegetables you get throughout the summer. We also were fortunate enough to have enough to share with family and friends. And, last but certainly not least, there is the fact you can build up a bit of stockpile that will last you through the year. We did a combination of pickling, freezing, and canning this year so that we can enjoy our garden for months to come.

I had no idea there were so many ways to pickle. I mean, I clearly knew about pickles, but pickling as a process is actually pretty versatile and can be used on a variety of veggies. This year, I stuck with dill pickles. After grabbing up a bunch of cucumbers and washing them thoroughly, I cut them up into spears as well as slices (variety is the spice of life after all).

cucumbers

Since this was my first pickling rodeo, I decided to play it safe by using a pickling mix. My husband’s family swears by Mrs. Wages, and after a few rounds I whole-heartedly agree. The directions are easy to follow and require only the fruits of your garden and a few ingredients that you will likely already have on hand, such as vinegar.  If you are new to the pickling experience, or just need a simple alternative, I would highly recommend going with a mix like Mrs. Wages.

pickles

I can’t wait til next year, when I will be much braver and prepared to tackle these tasks and will be trying new things in the pickle-realm. In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of crunchy pickles to enjoy!

Rainy Saturday = Closet Organizing

This morning, we woke up to fall temperatures and rain tapping on the tin roof. The husband decided to go squirrel hunting with one of his friends, so they headed out early into the fog. I curled up with a chai latte and watched this week’s episode of Project Runway (thank you, Hulu).

I knew I needed to be at least a little bit productive, so I decided to start a new project: tackling the closets.

Let me start by saying we live in an OLD house. I’m not even sure how old, but I am doing some research (which is on my 101 list so more on that when the mystery is solved). Typically old houses have either teeny tiny closets, or none at all. Luckily, a few decades ago, someone renovated the house and put in closets in all the rooms upstairs. This is glorious. However, with this surplus of closet space upstairs, I guess they just felt like it wasn’t necessary downstairs.

I realize this may be more than a one-morning adventure. So, updates will come as this progresses. Here are the spaces I’m working with and my plan for each.

Master Bedroom (upstairs) Walk-In Closet: My clothing, husband’s clothing, and shoes

Master Bedroom (upstairs) Cubby: Towels, surplus toiletries

Guest Room (upstairs) Double Closet: Hunting clothing, miscellaneous, empty space for guests to use

Secret Room (upstairs) Closet: Coats, purses and other bags, hats, gloves, scarves, outdoor activity stuff

Office/Workout Room (upstairs) Closet: Surplus craft supplies, work supplies, gift wrapping supplies, miscellaneous

Office/Workout Room (upstairs) Cubby: Sheets, blankets, curtains

Downstairs Closet: Seasonal jackets (until the “mudroom” is complete), cleaning supplies including vacuum, grocery bags

Whew, that makes me feel so organized, if only these things could organize themselves. I’ll post updates as I finish each space. Wish me luck!

The Li-berry

Many moons ago, I spent my days reading books upside down, singing songs, and doing crafts that often required pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks. Such is the life of a children’s librarian. I was always a bit of a bookworm so the library life suited me well. Perhaps because of my days a local community librarian, I am a huge advocate of all things library. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Amazon, but the library, wow, nothing will ever top it.

Today, I found myself back at the library returning some books, and really having nothing in particular that I was needing. So I started to roam.

Now let me back up by saying, while I may live in a fairly rural county, the main branch of our public library could have been picked right out of an affluent suburb and plopped down in the farmland. There is such an awesome selection, I’m super proud it’s my local library. But, I digress.

photo (3) copy

This afternoon it was incredibly cool and overcast and the library was on my list of errands. It was the last on my list, so I took my time as I walked up and down the aisles. There is so much to read, to learn, and to do. The possibilities on the shelves are nearly endless. I could learn to cook a new meal, try my hand at a new craft, read about a famous individual, get lost in another world.

I ended up picking up a few items from the nonfiction section, which I hope to report on soon with positive reviews. I also, selected some light reading that’ll offer a nice alternative to staring at the television screen (and for the record, I do indeed judge a book by its cover).

Are you a reader? Do you love your library as much as I do? I’d love to hear your thoughts or get some good book recommendations!

Back to Blogging

I spent an amazing day in the “big city” on Saturday celebrating a friend’s soon-to-arrive baby, lunching with the college roomie, and catching up with former colleagues.

It was such a great time and I kept people entertained with my stories of chickens, stray goats, puppy trials, and my new-found love of psuedo-homesteading. Throughout the day I was told no less than five times, you really should have a blog. And what I didn’t say was, I actually have one. It is sitting gathering cyberdust somewhere in the blogosphere. 

So, I have decided to dust off the blog, give it a shiny new name, and start posting again. My life has changed a lot since I created this blog to keep track of my 101 adventure with the best friend. I hope you’ll stay tuned because I have lots more stories to tell, recipes to share, and craftiness to blow your mind!