Shut The Gate!

Last year we took our driveway gates off to use as pasture gates on our newly fenced field.  That worked great for the horses and saved us a significant amount of money... with not having to go purchase two new gates.

However, it's left our driveway, and therefore our property, open to the comings and goings of the neighborhood dogs. Not a huge deal, but with the addition of our new pup, Krawler, and the neighbors new pup, Juno, we're tending to have more play dates than we'd like.

Shane built a new gate and today it was time to hang it....
a job made so much easier by borrowing the neighbor's tractor!

Down the hill to try it out....


 Darn! The wheel was mounted to high!

Back to town for a new mounting nut (and pizza... yum!), a quick re-install of the wheel and back down the drive to try the install again.


A perfect fit!

Now to build the walk gate that will go on the right side to close the driveway completely.

Getting caught up on projects around the farm is so much fun!


No TV? No Problem!

1 year, 2 months - No TV.

1 year, 2 months - More time for the best of things in life.

We disconnected our television in October 2011 as one of our cost savings efforts to get out of debt

At the time we both hoped it would be a temporary situation - but, as time has passed, we are so thankful and blessed that the TV schedule no longer plays a role in our day to day plans.

Our home time is now scheduled around play, adventures, books, activities and so much more - which, on some occasions, includes a movie on our TV. 

We've become so convinced of this "no-TV" lifestyle choice that this month we permanently cancelled our service (instead of just the no-charge suspension it's been on since 2011), boxed up the hardware and shipped it back to the company. Done!

Lessons from 2012:


~I like going to the Farmer's Market much more than I like gardening.  Perhaps it is a time situation, working as much as we did in 2012 didn't leave much "home" time... and the little time we did have was not spent in the garden.  The result?  Waist high weeds so thick that the veggies didn't get enough sun = minimal veggies compared to the time invested in prepping beds, planting, watering, etc...

~Getting out of debt IS possible.  We are blessed to be ending 2012 credit card debt free and only two consumer loans in addition to our mortgage.  It took a lot of work. A Lot. And it took several out-right blessings.

~We worked WAY too much in 2012.  For several months we were both working 70-80 hours per week.  This excessive work helped put a big dent in our debt reduction goals, but it came at the expense of family time and keeping up on the needs around the farm. We knew it would be for a short season, but it was hard - especially on the little one.  The memory of that time is now a good reminder to not get back into debt... we don't want to have to do that again.

~Go with the flow.  Change is good... an opportunity for growth and new experiences - but keep your eye on your longterm goals to make sure you are moving in the right direction.  2012 saw employment layoffs, employment changes, promotions, pay cuts, raises, debt increases, debt reduction, surgeries, travel, and new additions.  Through it all we kept our focus on our longterm goal: to be debt free.  Sometimes that goal seemed right at our finger tips and then *something* would happen and it would seem farther away than ever.  But we kept focused and did not get discouraged.
(New Addition)
 

~Miracles happen, everyday.  It's true - you just have to open your eyes and your heart to them.

Hopes for 2013

I tend to be a goal setter - I love seeing the long list of possibilities - but this year we're trying something new.  We're going to focus on our hopes and dreams... going with the flow of everyday life while remembering our priorities in life. 

Our hopes for 2013 include making the time to:

~Be Grateful for everything in our lives.

~Give Back. We've been so very blessed that this year we hope to return some of the kindnesses that have been given to us.  Everyone can give something - this may mean money or, as may be in our case, volunteering time or services to those who need them.

~Work Less on the things that don't really matter in the longterm.... including working just for money.

~Reduce and Expand.  Reduce the excess material belongings and expand the things that truly matter in life.... love, kindness, experiences, learning, etc...

~Be Creative. Take some time to stretch our imagination muscles in a wide variety of mediums from arts to words to design around the farm.

~Be Open to the experiences of life.

Here's to a lovely end to 2012 and a hopeful beginning to 2013.

Made With Love... Cinnamon Sugar Almonds - Crockpot Style!

Made With Love is a column dedicated to first time cooking experiments. I love to cook and put my own spin on old standby recipes. Join me as I document the triumphs and failures of my culinary adventures.

Ok - these are delish!

(Sorry for the blurry pic! Best of the bunch - my camera did not function well on this close up)


Cinnamon Sugar Almonds.... I found the original picture on Pinterest which led me to this blog.

I gathered up the ingredients:

But of course had to add my own signature ingredient:

My brown sugar had lumps - and well you know I know this great trick about putting a slice of bread in your brown sugar that will keep it soft and clump-free but did my brown sugar have said slice of bread? No. Ah well.... let's try anyways!

The wet ingredients were supposed to be mixed until "frothy" - well when two-year old is having a nap blenders are not condusive to continued nap-time (and mommy free time) so I mixed with a fork and decided that this was frothy enough.

In went the almonds.... this was hard to do! I really like raw almonds - a few did not make it into the bowl.



Then the dry ingredients:


Everything into a crockpot - sprayed with Pam of course!

Lid on to cook for 4 hours - stirring every 20 minutes or so.


At the 3 hour mark - added some water (and did a quick taste test... shhhhh):

Four hours - DONE! Cooling on a cookie sheet (minus one or two or..... for another taste test)




This recipe was oh so easy! A great (and smell good) food to make while cleaning the house or crafting or watching movies or whatever you do that keeps you in the house for 4 hours and available to stir the mixture every 20 minutes.

Changes I'd make next time:
~More almonds - there was quite a bit of sugary goodness that could have been attached to some unsuspecting almond.
~More spice! I put just a dash of cayenne and it could have easily used 2 or 3 for this size recipe.

1 1/2 C. Sugar
1 1/2 C. Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Salt
1 Egg White
2 tsp. vanilla
3 Cups Almonds
1/4 C. Water

Mix your dry ingredients - plus the cayenne if you'd like. Set aside.

Mix the wet ingredients - minus water - until frothy.

Add the almonds to the wet ingredients - mix well.

Add the dry ingredients to the almonds - mix well.

Dump into a crockpot that has been sprayed with cooking oil.

Cook on low - stirring every 20 minutes or so.

At hour 3 add the 1/4 c water and stir well.

All done at 4 hours! Spread out on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper to cool & store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!


You Didn't Die Today

Overlook in N. California

If you are reading this then you didn't die today. I hope that fact fills your heart with a song of thanks.

I was in Bend, OR two weekends ago for conference with the Ford Family Foundation - They put everyone up at the lovely Mount Bachelor Village Resort  and provided stimulating lectures, networking activities and, of course, delicious food.

On the trip to the conference Shane sent me a text - another man at his work had died... The second in less than a year. Not work related... health related - the second heart attack I believe. I'd never met either of the men but the news of this latest death colored my days of relaxation and learning with the flush of sadness for their families.

Life is challenging in a variety of ways but the trick is to not wallow in despair. Instead, try to fill everyday with gratitude - for the joys and for the challenges. To realize that each day is a new opportunity - to be a little better, a little kinder, a little more humble, a little more grateful - that is the way to live.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed... best get to living each moment of today with a prayer of thanks on our lips, a vision of fullness, and helpful, willing hands.

Be Grateful Today.




Be Brilliant

It is easy to stay curled up within yourself - safe and secure.

But only through opening yourself up - sharing your true self with the world - will your brilliance shine. 



 


Be Brilliant Today

Finding Truth In Life

Summer calls and my feet journey... to the outdoors where my computer may not follow.  And when someone as wonderful as this little man begs for play I can do nothing but agree.


So we shall start from today and work backwards in a manner of catching up.

We just returned from three glorious days at the lake... Sunshine, water, good friends and family.


One morning I took the girls (dogs) down to the water's edge and found a little secluded section of beach where we sat and listened to the water lap onto the shore. 

I learned this truth - all of creation was made beautiful.  It is important to seek the beauty that surrounds and more importantly, perhaps, is inside of us. 
****
Last week Daniel received his 2 week post op check up from surgery. Little ones should not have to go through such things and yet it is amazing how quickly they adapt and recover. I'm pretty sure I would still be complaining and fussing over the process yet he has moved on as though it was a minor inconvenience for a few hours. Such a trooper. The doctor gave him a score of "results could not be any more perfect!" - This is one happy mama.


I learned this truth - acceptance is important. Acceptance of self and of others. We each must find our own worth before we can ever hope to help others.  And yet, through helping others we are often able to fully realize our own worth. 
****

The garden has been planted a few weeks late and so we have a limited yet yummy selection of promising veggies - an experiment and I am excited to see how it will turn out... I should have photos for you soon.

I learned this truth - sometimes the process may not be fun but the promise of the result makes the effort worth it.
****

I spent some time in Bend, OR at a lovely resort.  A conference on leadership and rural community development. Beautiful grounds, inspiring speeches, no demands on my time and yet I could not wait to get home. 

I learned this truth - it is good to be needed. It is good to be a wife and mother and all of the other titles I hold to family and friend relations. It is good to have responsibilities and to make other's lives a little easier with my efforts.
****

I finished my cold shower challenge.  I am so happy I participated and may be a permanent "cool water" shower taker - a big change from my "so hot I get dizzy" showers. 

I learned this truth - It is ok to make your own rules, to go at your own pace.  The important thing is that you try - you grow - you learn - you challenge yourself.
****

And because I just can't get enough of his face - Here is a smiling happy camping boy to send you off to a great morning:


Find your truth today.



Do You Appreciate Your Spouse?

My husband, Shane, is an amazing man. 

Honest, sincere, focused, strong, funny, creative and he is oh so capable with manipulating metal and machinery.

~Shane's Rock Crawler - 1987 Suzuki Samurai~

A few months ago I wrote him an email outlining just a few of the things that I love about him.  I acknowledged the favors he does for me on a daily basis, the things he does for our family, the sacrafices he makes and even the way he makes me laugh.

He was speachless. I just thought it would be a fun little email.. something nice to brighten his day.  To him it was so much more.

Our days are filled with opportunities for negativity to seep into our subconscious. We all strive to find happiness, to feel valued and appreciated, to give honestly of ourselves and be accepted for who we are - yet the world is not always kind in response.

By reaching out and acknowledging exactly how and why you appreciate your spouse you will strengthen bonds, create joy, inspire more of those desired behaviors and actions, and motivate both of you to be kind not only to each other but to others in your lives. 

If peace comes from within then sharing that peace with your family, and most importantly with your spouse, is an action that will benefit many. Like a tiny pebble tossed into the pond... the rippling effect of focusing AND acknowledging the good in others will reach far and wide.

Share with me... What positive messages can you share today with to those who need to hear it most - often the one closest to you?



Cold Shower - Day 5, Take 2 - Choices

You've probably heard the saying that some people are starters, some people are journeyers, and some people are finishers.

Well, I'm a starter on a grand scale. OH how I love to start things... the excitement, the possibilities, the thrill of the unknown. Perhaps that is why I embrace change so readily - it's something new to get my blood pumping and thoughts racing.

Then comes the middle of a thing and I become bored.  The shiny wears off the new and I become distracted by some other sparkly new idea.  In the past, generally, the only way I've made it through "the middle" is by some external force. A deadline for a project I've agreed to do or a committment to someone I will really let down if I don't accomplish the task will usually do the trick.  But then comes the end.

I fear finishing things. It is pretty irrational - especially when most things I start do not involve dying as a result of completing the task - but I am filled with fear none-the-less.  It is a fear of failure and a fear of success.
  • What if I get to the goal and I completely flop?
  • What if I get to the goal and I hit a homerun?
  • What if I get to the goal and it is completely anti-climatic?

Finishing, for me, does not provide the thrill of accomplishment but rather the sigh of relief that I didn't die.

The great thing about realizing my "start, stutter, stop, start something new" routine is that I have plenty of room for improvement.  On many levels, this is what the Cold Shower challenge is to me.

Monday, the official day 5 of my challenge, I made a choice. That choice was to hit the snooze button leaving me not enough time for a shower before I headed out for the day. I convinced myself that I would take a cold shower before bed that night and thereby keep on track for my 30 straight days.

Looking back now, the snooze button is an excuse.

Was I truly tired? Yes.
Could I have gotten up on time? Yes.
Did I? No.

I'd say the "why" is because the shiny new has worn off this challenge for me.  I'm now in the dreaded middle where so many projects in my life lie... dusty and often forgotten. Right now is the time of make it or break it for me - and I wonder, at only 4 days completly in, will this challenge too be discarded into the excuse pile of forgotten dreams?

4 days in and the shiny new has worn off, the excitement of beginning has blended into the reality of doing something rather hard for 30 days. One would hope this dreaded middle ground would hit, oh I don't know, maybe near the actual middle of the task... not so in this case.

That is exactly why I need this challenge. To find my way of getting through the middles and facing the ends... with whatever results await there.

Monday evening rolls around - time to install the irrigation pipes for the summer. After hauling and installing and priming, and finally starting all of the sprinkler heads in windy, cool temperatures I had had my fill of icy water. I was shivering and chilled to the core and I made another choice - There was no way I was going to get in more cold water.

So, did I fail?

I think not. Accepting failure is really just another excuse.

It would be incredibly easy to say "Oh well, I missed a day so the challenge is over for me." And then go on about my life and drop this challenge into the overflowing bucket of uncompleted things.

Instead, as in the movies, I made the choice that Monday was "Day 5, Take 1" and it did result in me being covered in icy water so I figure I got partial credit. Today was "Day 5, Take 2" - and I accomplished the goal.  Was today great? Not really. It was cold but I did it.

I've began to realize that the true challenge in this activity, for me, is not the fear of turning the water to cold but rather to face the boredom of the middle and then accept that as long as I finish, I've won.

Cold Shower - Day 4 - Acclimate

Due to many varied chores that needed to be seen to before a shower I was unable to do the whole "get up, no thinking just action" bit this morning.

That left plenty of time for thinking & excuse creating.

When I finally headed for the shower I was hesitant, which surprised me. After all, haven't I had three great experiences with this exercise so far?

I turned the water on a normal hot temperature and got in. It was...... completely unremarkable. I turned it down a bit, then a bit more, then finally all the way to cold.  I thought myself the reverse of the frog in boiling water.... I allowed myself, over 60 seconds or so, to acclimate to the water.

Is this the "ideal" method of what this experience is supposed to be? Does it follow the unstated "rules"? Probably not.

But here is what I learned - Sometimes it is OK to give yourself a break. Today I didn't need to suck it up and step into icy water. Today I needed to be kind and understanding to where I was at that moment. 

~Did I still accomplish the task? Yes.

~Did I still make progress on my goals for taking on the challenge? Yes.

Today I needed the time and space to acclimate to the situation before I ever had a chance of being successful.

So I have to wonder... where else am I pushing myself too hard and resulting in less than stellar results because of it? Exercise? Nutrition? Work? Family? Hobbies?


Cold Shower - Day 3 - Intention & Adaptation

I thought perhaps this morning I would make breakfast and do some cleaning before the shower... No. That was an excuse - When I was honest with myself I knew I would probably avoid the shower if I didn't do it immediately. I headed for the shower, turned it on cold and got in. No thinking, just action.

It was cold. I tried focusing on a sprinkler in the summer - didn't work. I tried laughing at my excuses - didn't work. The water was cold - for the first time I found myself sucking my breath and shivering as I held to the edges of the shower... not fully committed but not quite out of the game.

I focused on my intention - something I've come to realize is extremely important and very underused. Why was I doing this? What did I hope to gain? What purpose did it serve?

The answers flooded in: Commitment and follow-through. A deeper understanding of myself and what drives me. Inspiration. Competition. Adventure. Motivation.

With my questions satisfied I committed to the cold. The shivering stopped. My breath returned to normal. My body warmed.

Wait. What? I checked the faucet - still on cold. Why was I warm? Checked faucet again... and a third time. Definitely on cold and yet my skin felt as warm as if I was taking a regular hot shower. My body was adapting - mentally I had embraced the cold water and the reality became a pleasant experience. 

Mind over matter had changed the physical perception of the matter.

I no longer thought the water sucked and so, 
it simply no longer sucked.

Intention & Adaptation


If we take this concept into the rest of our lives:

  • What things are we standing on the edge of - not committed to but not ready to walk away?
  • Where do we embrace only the fear and never push beyond into the positive place?
  • Why do we stay in this negative place? 


If you find yourself there, question your intention.

  • Why did you want to make this change?
  • If the answer does not speak to your goals and ambitions then why do it?

If you stay in this negative space you will waste your energy and emotion on something that is not truly important to you. 

Look for another change, something that will move you closer to your goals.

Go into your new goal(s) knowing your intentions so that you have the courage to move beyond the initial fear and gain the stamina needed to see the project to completion.

Have a wonderfully, intentional day - Let me know how it goes!

Cold Shower - Day 2 & Other Farm Happenings

Oh how the flowers are blooming here on the farm!


And our very kind neighbor gave our garden a face lift... bye bye weeds - time for veggies!

Now let's talk about that cold shower plan of mine.

It was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning... and gave me ample cause to hit the snooze button - which I did, 3 times.

At 5am I decided it was time, I was going to do it. That is until I faced the shower faucet. THEN I decided that first I would warm up with a hot shower and then I would turn it cold. 

Great plan! Until I stepped in and the water immediately faltered, sputtered, and sprayed me with cold water all of it's own accord. It continued to sputter and spray until I relented and turned it to cold on my own. The water stopped sputtering and I now had a nice uh... refreshing stream of cold water. Lesson learned.

As I stood there in the icy refreshingness (it's a word I'm sure) I realized that this sensation is not a lot unlike the chill I would experience as a child running through sprinklers in the summer. In fact, I think I remember those sprinklers being colder than this.

What was the difference? Attitude.

As a child I relished the icy water as something novel and fun. As an adult, I was (am?) focused on the suck factor.

How many other things in life could be fun, thrilling, special, exciting, and any number of other positive descriptions if I would get over myself, stop worrying about the suck potential, and change my attitude?

What things could you see changing in your life if you simply changed your attitude about them?

Cold Shower - On Purpose - Day 1

Hey! I've got this great idea. Tomorrow morning get out of bed, get in the shower and turn on ONLY the COLD water.

Thoughts?

I recently came across this concept on Joel Runyon's Blog of Impossible Things and his Cold Shower Therapy Challenge - although the idea was not a new one to me.

7 years +/- ago, I went to a naturepath and he suggested a similar concept. Now, I respected this doctor... took his advice to the letter on other prescriptions... the cold water shower I promptly "forgot" about.

Fast forward to April 2012, Joel is suggesting a similar "prescription" although for a perhaps a different reason.


From Blog of Impossible Things:
The shower shows you how weak fear really is.
When you’re staring at that faucet from hell, you’re only thinking one thing – this is going suck, this is going to suck, this is going to suck. Why? Because it sucks obviously and you’re afraid it’s going to suck. But just because something sucks doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Just because you’re afraid of something, doesn’t mean you have to stay afraid.

In April I thought - "Great idea... a motivational technique. But, I've got the concept so I really don't need to do the showers."

In May I thought - "Great idea... but, I'm already super busy and making headway on tons of projects so I don't need this shock factor."

Today I thought - "Great idea... it really can't be THAT hard. It's just cold water."

And then I tried it. I stared at that faucet... and I'm pretty sure it stared back at me - taunting and daring. Joel talks in detail about this time - that it's going to be hard to do.  I didn't believe him.

The excuses started soon after I stepped into the shower.

~Why do I need to do this? I've "got" the concept of facing fear.
~Maybe I should do this in the evening... after all is it really "good" for me to shock my body with cold water first thing in the morning?
~I bet people don't really do this, they just say they do.
~People would think I was crazy if I told them I took a cold shower, on purpose.
~That doctor said I should take cold showers... but he was a quack...

That last one made me laugh and realize that EVERYTHING I was thinking was a total excuse. I just decided that a respected doctor was a "quack" just so that I could convince myself that I didn't need to turn that water to COLD and step into it.

And then, laughing, I turned the water to cold and stepped in.

You know what? It didn't suck nearly as bad as I thought it would.  Sure there was definately some suck factor going on but it was outweighed by laughing at myself.

If I made excuse after excuse to not do this.. a simple exercise in mind over matter... how many other truly important things am I not accomplishing due to trying to avoid the suck factor?

Can I do this for 30 days as Joel suggests?

I believe I can... and, as I type this I believe I need to do it - you see I'm already formulating excuses as to why I don't need to do it again... after all I've "got it" and I've "learned a good lesson" ... but you see, obviously I haven't if the excuses to not do it are so readily coming to mind.

I'm interested to see where this journey will take me - I've got a few big goals that have bounced around in my head for a few years but I've never made progress on them because (insert numerous excuses here).

If you'd like to see where this journey goes... join me won't you? Well, not in the shower but here on the blog. I'll be blogging my experience with 30 days of cold water showers, my excuses and progress I make on one of those goals that I've yet to accomplish for fear of the initial suck factor.  I'd love to hear your thoughts, encouragment and even for you to tell me it's crazy if you think it's so.

Up for a challenge? Trust me, if I can do it you can! Read more about these concepts and other uber inspiring things on Joel's Blog then turn that water to cold, embrace the suck and conquer the excuses between you and your goals!










Family Photos

I love old photos....

I wonder, at times, would these people like me?
Would I like them?

Were their challenges really that different from mine?

Did they seek to find themselves?

Did they try to do good for others?

Did they ever think that their photo would, many years later, find it's way to a relative?


Someone who hopes that they enjoyed their lives...

And appreciates them and accepts them...

 As family.

Focus

Sometimes....
All you need is a little focus
A little reminder 
 That the world is truly beautiful
And so are you.

Be Free

Bandon, Oregon

Hold On
or
Let Go?

The question is irrelevant for there is nothing to truly hold on to and therefore nothing to let go of.

Instead, simply be free.

First Time For Everything

Memorial Weekend
2012
The weekend started with the normal giddy feelings of anticipation - a few days away from home always welcome to my traveling soul. A simple camping trip, just north of town. Close enough to return, if necessary, but far enough to be officially "on vacation" for a few days.

The events of those few days, and the thoughts to follow, were anything but truly anticipated. The reality of how many "firsts" my son was experiencing sank in and my heart overflowed - first with joy... and then with a soul stirring revelation. As he sat devouring his first nectarine... totally absorbed in the experience of the sweet, sticky fruit... I sat speechless.

How many times have I let the sweetness of today be but a passing thought... if a thought at all? Isn't today a first? It has not come before, and it shall not come again, therefore doesn't today deserve my attention?

First Nectarine:
First Campfire:
 First Night Camping:
 First Tree Climb:
 First "Train" Ride:

 May you taste the sweetness of this day... enjoy it - it is a first.