The Weekly Read | Love, Loss, Pride & Joy

The Weekly Read | Love, Loss, Pride and Joy
I would like the record to reflect that when people say “how do you find material to write about?” I am always confused. When you have in-laws who believe that livestock make great gifts, you are never at a loss for words. Not all of them good. (Continued via link below)

Read Full Text of this week's column at F&D Website  

A girl and her label maker ...

My Brother P1290 - he's like family

Seasonal Storage Solutions - Pantry Style
Take the guesswork out of "Who brought the hot dish?" Also, more likely you'll get your dishes back after a big party or bake sale. 

An absolute sanity saver for coralling all the chargers for various phones, cameras, mp3's. 
Shoe organizer + labels = BRILLIANT! Cost about $4

Note each pocket is labeled so all "pieces parts" stay together.

How proper cord labeling promotes world peace. Take a minute to label the cords too. You'll thank yourself for it later. This allows you to return items to their proper pocket. More importantly, it prevents fighting when your kids have duplicate items. When only ONE mp3 cord can be found they will both claim it as "theirs." Proper labeling ala "mp3 Red" and "mp3 Blue" can end wars, I tell you, Wars.

Though a simple thing, it makes me happy. I can't believe how organized my coupons are since I ditched my chicken scratch for real labels. Label size/fonts are adjustable which allows for even the teeny weeniest label creation. How many labels could you fit on the head of a pin? I don't know but I'm willing to TRY.

Easy Medicine cabinet organization for households with older children. Labeling stand up freezer bags (they're thicker) with labels by type is invaluable for making sure that treatment for what ails you is handy in one safe place. Great for travel since everything is already "bagged."

Some days I think the only things I have left to label are "Son," "Daughter," And "Spouse." Too much? 

*ETA Apologies for photo quality or lack thereof. Blogger appears to be having issues today and so far what shows it the unadjusted/uncropped images. Sorry!

Dear A&F, You're Playing Us, We're On To You

Dear Abecrombie & Fitch, 

Well played.  Your marketing department had to know that marketing a "push up" bikini to 8 year olds was guaranteed to garner attention, much of it negative. The resultant air time and media buzz must have been invaluable! I bet you can't even put a price tag on that. Of course, after a proper amount of "oh no they didn't!" rubbernecking on the part of the media and the public that heretofore didn't know or care about your 2011 summer line, you could graciously shake your heads in mock shame over our gutter minds, insist that you were misunderstood and that the suits were "lightly padded for modesty" and pretend it was all just a great big misunderstanding. Meanwhile, your "butt enhancing" pants for little girls remain on display. 

Just so we are clear here, despite the lightning-speed revamp there was no "misunderstanding" here. You're too smart for that. You've managed to turn a so-so brand that hails from a state known more for cows and an aging-rust-belt-infrastructure into a faux-English-boarding-school-meets-West-Coast-Cool trend, so we know you've got some mad public relations skilz.It's safe to say you know your way around some serious "spin."

They were clearly working overtime when they came up with this one. Calling the bikini a "padded push-up style" and marketing it in your "Kids" catalog was a stroke of GENIUS.  You got the "cutting edge" publicity you crave because your brand is slipping into "tired" territory with your target teen and young-twenties demographic. Suddenly you are almost edgy again! How else could you possibly hope to get CNN and Fox News to tell us about your new products? Then, just as the furor dies down, you backpedal enough so that the middle aged moms buy the "oh it was all blown out of proportion" line and continue to slurp up this stuff for their tweens - because you can't possibly buy the same ugly a#$ striped bathing suit at Target for a fraction of the price right? Of course not. Not when we have A&F Kids selflessly making the world safe for flat-chested 8, 9, and 10 years olds. Which is to say, ALL OF THEM.

Well played, indeed. Now let's see who falls for it. Junior hooker, product lines, and sinker. 


You are officially off the beaten path when ...

You know that you officially live "In The Middle Of Nowhere" when even your GPS believes that your location is a cry for help.

*Image taken from GPS at the location of our driveway (aka Unnamed Road)

Weekly Read | House Hunting for Dummies

This week's column  also known as Thank Goodness we didn't settle for that house we could actually afford! Can you believe people live without granite? Savages!" 

Does there exist a blog, website, or even random street corner where people can meet to poke merciless fun at the people featured on HGTV’s House Hunters? If not, there should be. They’d get a million visits per day.
 Read full text of this week's Life Out Loud at F&D 

This is a Puppy Moment

An oldie but goodie that still holds true - you've got to squint to read the faint grey text in order to really get this one (it prints much darker, sorry).

Dear Blogger, you're cheesing me off ...

So you spend 10,000 hours (give or take) working out the perfect blog design. (You'll hate it next month but TODAY, it's awesome).

You pick out a new fancy Advanced Template font. You love it. It's casual yet sassy (we put a lot of EMOTION into our fonts).

You are blogging happily away, all is right with your "fun" font life. Then, one day, without warning, you realize that when your page loads for anyone ELSE they don't see cute font, they see basic, Times New Roman font. They also see a hot mess because it's not lining up properly, it breaks where it shouldn't. It's AWFUL.

You wonder how LONG it's looked like that for everyone else? People who came in fresh have been seeing you not at your best but seeing you with the blog equivalent of a trailing piece of toilet paper on your shoe.


Apparently, if you are a fresh visitor to a Blogger site using the Advanced Template Designer choices like the new fancy fonts, sizes, etc. - you need to let the page load and then hit REFRESH once to see what the page should ACTUALLY look like?

Um, yeah, because THAT'S going to happen.

Blogger, I love ya, but sometimes you really do get what you (don't) pay for. 

Goat Delivery RFD

For the record I am not some goat obsessed blogger. This will not become the All About Goats extravaganza, I swear to this. Not because goats aren’t precious, of course, but because what I know about goats you could stuff in an olive. The sum total of my vast goat knowledge would be this:
[sound of crickets …]
Nothing. Got that. Nada. Zip. Nothing. So if you know goats feel free to share. Often. We feed, we love, we provide housing and water. We repeat as necessary.  Every once in a while we gush “Ohmygosh PRECIOUS!” in their general direction which is crucial for goat maintenance, surely.
Without further ado we have the addition of our two new goats – Billy and Penny. Billy and Penny come to us courtesy of Sean and Julie Magill. They were Gertie’s old pen pals before she came to live with us last year so this is a reunion of sorts.
Billy appears unsure. "They look shifty, drive away fast!"
Billy checks us out upon arrival. They look shifty, Floor It!

Catch the goat.
There’s one in every crowd. Billy remains unimpressed and makes a break for it. I’m sure the exit is right around this wooden MOUNTAIN. Crackers.”

Little help here?
Finally in the pasture Penny faces her own physical limitations. Little help here? Apparently they are rehoming us with mountain people?

I'm glad people don't greet each other this way. I'd have a head injury. I'm friendly.
Gertie and Billy greet each other. Penny appears to be saying Don’t hog her, my turn, MY TURN
Cool move
Penny is happy to see her. And also a bit of a show-off. This is my best trick. LOVE ME!

No really girlfriend, I looovee you.
A head butt hello is big with goats. I’m glad people don’t greet each other this way. I’m pretty friendly. I’d have a concussion.
Penny and her tongue. She's not being sassy, it's just how she is.
Welcome Penny. We don’t know what this tongue thing means but apparently it’s her thing.
Our one billy goat gruff.
Finally, our own Billy Goat Gruff. He seems unimpressed. With everything. I picture him as a kind of Lou Grant/Archie Bunker kind of personality. All charm that one.

Caution: Kids at Work

All rural dwellers have them. The friends, family, or mere acquaintances who imply, upon hearing where you live, that you must be stone cold stupid to live in the middle of “nowhere” with  “nothing” to do.

Some people simply cannot imagine living beyond spitting distance of Target. Me, I can't imagine ever wanting to. Sure, the suburbs have their charms but where else but “nowhere” can kids engage in healthy outdoor pleasures, have their own sledding hills, livestock,  creek, and climbing trees all in their own back yard?

Have I mentioned the work? Oh how I love the work. Chores. Duties. Responsibilities. I think it makes kids stronger and, dare I say it, better? I leave others to their chore charts, gold stars, and to kids who think they hung the moon because they put their own plate in the dishwasher.My kids know the real reward comes not from a sticker of a star, but from not freezing slap to death come winter, and of having your animals well fed.

Please join me for a relaxing late Sunday afternoon in the middle of Nowhere.

Our wood doesn't come all neatly cut and stacked. It comes like this, in tree form.You warm my days and heat up my nights. We do it all for you baby.
Our firewood is not for fireplace ambience but heat. We use it to heat a large outdoor wood burner that provides heat and hot water to our home all winter long. Because we live in a large, old, and essentially open-to-the-brisk-nor’easterly-wind house, the cost of fuel oil to heat the place would break us. Hence, the firewood. It comes not in neatly stacked cords but in a more natural, “tree” form. Some TLC needed …
IMG_3044Running the splitter.
This is the TLC needed. Cutting into smaller lengths and loading into the splitter. Ideally it’s a two-person operation. One to lift and load and the other to operate the splitter.
Jagger is clearly an integral part of any work process. His chief skill set is getting in the way.

Here Jagger gives his impression of a speed bump. No one gets firmly in the way of any project quite like Jagger.
Jagger, exhausted after a grueling few minutes of impersonating a speed bump, takes a well deserved massage break.
Exhausted from said “getting in the way,” he takes a break while Ace roams, ever alert for the opportunity to play fetch. This, however, does not appear to be a fetching crowd.

I remember when he was a toddler, safe in the house with me to keep him out from underfoot. Sigh ...
I remember when he was a toddler, kept safe inside with me to prevent him from being underfoot. Just look at him now. He probably regrets all the time he stood at the door stomping his little feet and insisting “me go TOO!”  Now my kid can wrangle wayward livestock, barefoot, in minutes, all without putting down his sandwich.
Ace says all work and no play makes you a dull boySeriously, dude, it's a stack of sticks. You know how I feel about STICKS. THROW ONE ALREADY!
Ace says all work and no play makes you a dull boy. Also, a disappointing one.

I just love to watch country kids at work.
Gertie's just a little excited to see her ...
Time to clean the goat barn. Gertie is just a wee bit happy to see her. Hard-to-get is not Gertie’s style.
 A little fresh hay ...
Fresh, clean, and toasty warm
Lift that gate, tote that bale…
Gertie prefers the top bunk
Here, let me eat your hat. Can I get a side of gloves with that?
Here let me eat your hat. Can I get a side of gloves with that?

So there you have it - country kids on a relaxing weekend. Providing for the family. Caring for pets. (Played a little soccer, video games, and  had a sleepover too!) Kids toting, hauling, chopping and caring all in the great outdoors. Why, if we had any more “nothing” to do, we’d run flat out of day.

Warm Fuzzy Winter Pity

In winter, I always feel a little bit sorry for homes that don't have old radiators to warm their boots and toast their gloves dry.


What’s in a Name?

It’s become clear to me that any self-respecting property larger than a postage stamp has to have a name. The internet is full of people who had the imagination and foresight to call their residence something more than “random number assigned by government body on County Road 422.” Just a few of the lyrical pretties I’ve stumbled upon: “Spring Thyme Farm,” “High Hopes Farm,” and “High Winds Ranch.”

I have long wanted to name our own meager acreage but have been stumped by the sense that we have exactly 12 acres and no livestock save a few goats, dogs, and some (human) kids. I fear being “all hat, no cattle” as they say about pretentious urban farm types.

Always willing to throw someone ELSE under the bus, I figured that Mr. Wonderful did grow up on a farm and thus he has the street cred (field cred?) to name a place if he wants.

What he wants, of course, is to be left alone.

I say “Honey we should name our house!”
He says “it has a name, I call it “home.”


My top choices are "Muddy Lane" or "Long Lane" (our home sits down what natives to the region call a long dirt "lane" (that would be driveway to you and I).

I’m leaning toward the latter because every single native type person has said the same thing when I explain where we live. I give lots of really great directions such as “it’s kind of far past the red barn but not the BIG red barn, the smaller one, and the kind of blue-green house that needs painted. It’s on the right. Except if you are coming from the other direction, then it’s on the left.”  I can’t imagine why they don’t find us.

Invariably they finally track us down, probably losing a portion of their vehicle's undercarriage along the way,  to say, exasperated, “Why didn’t you just SAY you live down the long lane?

So now, just in the space of this blog post, I think I’m simply going to replace “I do?” with “I do!”

“Long Lane.” It’s pretty right? Not too pretentious since it's true?

Granted, Long Lane can be both a lovely visual image, or a good name for an insane asylum.

Either way, we're good.


I'm linking this up on Farm Friend's Friday in hopes some savvy rural types can lend me a hand - or at the very least stop me from making a fool of myself down at the feed store ... 
Jagger would like the record to reflect that we have had too da@# much snow.

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Proof Positive that Mr. Wonderful has always been very cool.

Blog Update In progress

Please excuse wonky blog settings and general disarray. Blog update currently under progress ...

Talkin' The Talk

hWe are home from "The Talk."

"The Talk" has consumed our thoughts, plans, and dread fear of freezing like a deer in the headlights in front of a roomful of lovely women for weeks. Okay, that last one was all mine. Mr. Wonderful and the little wonders were most consumed with packing bathing suits and planning their assault on one of the many water slides.

"The Talk" was the result of a very kind invitation of Heather Schofield of Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) who bravely in light of my complete novice status as a public speaker invited me to speak on a general topic of social media and the value it can add to our lives as the ladies session during a three day conference held in the beautiful Cherry Valley Lodge and Cocoa Key Resort

It was my pleasure in every sense of the word. 

If any of the ladies who so kindly attended happen up on this blog I would like to thank them, from the bottom of my nerdy little writer's heart, for being so welcoming to someone who normally works in the silent, solitude of home in pajama pants and one of her husband's old tee-shirts.

They came, they listened - even better they RESPONDED and brought their own wonderful ideas. I think I learned as much from them as they could even politely pretend to have learned from me.

Real life

You know all those bloggers that post photos of their awesomely decorated and oh-so-perfect organized homes and lives?

I am not one of those bloggers. I am the blogger who would like to share with you real life, c. 2011, in a 100+ year old house currently taken hostage by love beads, peace signs, and the wild tornado that is an 11 year old girl getting ready for a dance.

I like to imagine my house has a heart - and memories. I imagine it thinking hmm... I know I've seen that Peace sign somewhere before ... Probably about forty years ago along with the happy mess of the families it has sheltered for generations.

House Beautiful, eat your heart out. I wouldn't miss this for the world.

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