Thursday, December 31, 2009

Highlights of 2009

2009 was an interesting year. This will be the first of a few photo recaps I have planned for this New Year's Eve and Day.
Some bad stuff happened in 2009 - like Kevin loosing his job at the Bio Fuel plant.
Loosing my dog Seb was a big blot on the year, as well as having a horse put down in the spring. But the year had it's blessings and good times as well.

Noelle Graduated in June.

My ninth and tenth nephews, Owen Pennell, and Charles Xavier Joubert, were born. Charile's Dad, my step brother Andre, retired from a career in the Navy also.
(Hey - who gave that dirty, sweaty, crazy haired farmer that sweet baby? :))

I rode my OTTTB Major in his first eventing clinic, where we placed 6th out of ten riders, and I was sooooooo proud of my "little" boy.

In true farm girl fashion, I grew, canned, dried, preserved, froze, and of course, ate many of my own veggies I raised myself. I also incubated eggs, and brooded my own flock of laying hens and frying roosters.

We all worked endless hard hours on moving, building, and otherwise starting my brother Eli's new business. Even I lent my 2 hands to the construction effort.

Visiting my BFFs in Harrisonburg was such a blast

I got a new pet - our little "catten", Phileppe

And I lost an old friend, my dog Seb.
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There was also Alana getting hit by the car in the early spring. That was not so good, but it could have been worse.

I started my own business on Etsy, and am getting rid of a lot of stash in the process.

We got further along with the remodeling as well. That's a plus.

I started blogging. I got on Facebook after my long held stubborn refusal - but I did it for business reasons. (Yeah, right.) I learned more about computers this year, and started taking better photos.

I am looking forward to 2010; I just have a good feeling about it. Maybe it's that cliche that "It can't get much worse, so it's got to get better." Or maybe my feelings are right on the mark. or maybe it is the fact that it's an election year. And that is all I have to say about THAT.

Whatever the case, I think I am pretty ready for whatever 2010 has in store for me.
Check out my list of goals for the year in my sidebar. Did I already mention that? Oh well.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Shop Update - Jewelry

I went and saw the Twilight saga movie "New Moon" back when it came out in November.. *Sigh* Yeah, whatever...... I am not a huge fan of the movies, although I was vastly entertained by the books. I know, I know, call me immature and cheesy...... but in my opinion, Stephanie Meyer has a talent for writing a very entertaining, captivating story.
The movies on the other hand........ bleh.
Anyhoo, while I was being put to sleep by the actors on the screen failing to do any kind of justice whatsoever to the actual story, I was drooling over the wardrobe and jewelry on the girls in the movie. Bella's turquoise and silver cuff bracelet, Bella's rose embroidered peasant top, and Alice's choker necklace..... I was so inspired, I came home and went right away to Etsy, where I bought supplies to recreate Alice Cullen's choker necklace:

In the movie, hers has her family's crest; in all of my renditions, I used cameos and vintage shell buttons; tea dyed velvet ribbons, and lobster claw clasp and chain closures. Now available in the shop.

I've had this ring a while and added it to the shop as well: Silver and mother of pearl inlay. 1970's (ish)

What hopeless romantic lover of vintage treasure doesn't appreciate 1928 jewelry? I chose a 1928 piece to complement my vintage inspired wedding dress. My mom has a 1928 piece from waaaaay back when. I found this very unusual skeleton key broach a few years ago and added it to the shop in time for Valentine's day! What better gift to give than the key to your heart, yes? (Sold)

And this is a gold tone broach engraved on the back with the year 1968. If only all vintage things came with the year they were made stamped on them somewhere! It would take a lot of the guesswork out of this hobby of mine. And same a lot of time on research. Oh well.
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I'll be adding a few more Valentine's Day things this week.
I also added a new section: SALE! Yay for a sale.
I also added to my "stationary and cards" section, and made it into "papers and books"; as I hope to add some little booklets and sheet music and other paper ephemera things in the coming months; in addition to my vintage card selections.
I am offering free shipping on all my jewelry items. (To the US.)
The past three months have been a total blast for me. I never in my wildest dreams thought Etsy could be so much fun; nor that my shop would take off as much as it has! Of course, I would like for it to take off even more..... ahem.
Anyway as always, I love it when my shop and items get "hearted"; also check out my Favorites and see a list of really great sellers and really cute items!!
Ok, I think that is all the end of 2009 shop news and stuff.

While you're here, check out my goals list for 2009 - major and minor - on my side bar. And hopefully, watch it shrink as I check off the items on there!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

The lane to our pond as a winter wonderland




I took these this past March; not during the recent snowfall last week. I just thought, while the thoughts of blizzards and white Christmases were fresh in people's mind, I'd post some pictures pre-blog. I wasn't blogging at this point.

Our farm is a gorgeous piece of land - with hidden trails and pathways to forrest clearings; meandering brooks with fern and moss covered banks, hidden, abandoned cabins with untold secrets of a time gone by, buried treasure, a resident Great Horned Owl, flocks of sweet wood ducks at the pond, and plenty of great views.
While I am extremely partial to my home land of North Carolina three miles away, I am content to live on this old place for the time given to us. It satisfies my need to see natural beauty on a daily basis.

When you are in my neck of the woods, let me show it to you. Our gate is always open.

(Well, not literally. It is usually shut on the lane. Otherwise, we have to chase poachers and their dogs off. But you know what I mean.)
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Sweetest Gift

My sister Naomi gave me this Willow Tree figurine for Christmas. I am deeply touched.
It's called, "Sisters by Heart."

I was 2 1/2 when she was born, and we have been best friends for our whole lives.

Growing up, we did everything together. Literally.

We have a younger sister, Noelle... who just graduated from High School and is headed for A.) College and B.) The Army (After college, as an officer..... that's the plan, anyway.)

We are close with Noelle as well, of course.

Naomi and I have had our share of differences, fights, arguments, disagreements, shouting matches, and silent periods. But through it all, our bond has remained strong.

While we grew up almost as one person, in the last few years of our lives, we have branched out and found our own paths.

But even on our own paths, we still walk side by side.

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Kevin and I did, for sure. I baked, and baked and baked, and cooked and cooked....
On the 23d, Naomi and I had great pleasure in singing in a community Christmas music service with our long time singing partners and BFFs, Susi and Lisi Forshey, where we sang a piece we did about 10 years ago as teenagers in our Girl's Quartet. It was nice to hear that was "still had it" after all this time.
Christmas Eve found Kevin and I braving town for a few last minute things we were after. Then we helped light up
100s of paper bag luminaries in my small historical home town of Milton. Then we attended the candlelight community service at the quaintest little white clapboard church in town. They rang the bell in the steeple to call the neighbors all to the service, where we sang carols, read passages from the Bible, and took communion. I love this service, as it is all member of the Milton Community, neighbors, all together worshipping God in such an "old fashioned" way.
Christmas was tons of food, as we ate at my Mom's and visited with Grandma. The rest of the day we hang out watching movies, and eating the fudge and pecan toffee I made. We stuffed ourselves again on my dinner menu of honey glazed ham, my own recipe of Parmesan - Rosemary potato crisps, creamed spinach, and deep dish pumpkin cheesecake pie with pecan strudel topping... UGH I ate so much I almost burst.
Anyway, Now I have to go do some cleaning and dish washing. And I think I will jog down to the pond and back; or go for a hike in the woods.... too wet to ride today, so maybe I'll hop on a horse tomorrow and go for a gallop in the woods along the creek down at the barn.................. yeah.
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lasagna with 2 Sauces

Ok - here's how to do it.

2 cups marinara sauce - jar or home made

1 recipe Alfredo sauce - about 2 cups - or jar

Lasagna noodles - home made, or I use the "no-cook" flat sheets if I buy them

1 Tbsp. Olive oil

3 cups sliced mushrooms

2 med. carrots, thinly sliced (1 cup)

1 med. onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, pressed or diced

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 container (15 oz) Ricotta cheese

1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

1 pkg. (10 oz) frozen spinach, of equivilant fresh

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

Make pasta sheets and sauces first, if you are going home made all the way with this.
If you're using homemade pasta, cook it first. I've tried just using it as-is and it gets soggy.

Heat oil in a skillet. Cook garlic, onion, mushrooms and carrots 8-10 minutes, or until carrots are crisp-tender. Drain, if you like.

Mix the Mozzarella, Ricotta, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Cook and drain spinach; squeeze dry. Make sure it is good and squeezed; otherwise the dish will turn out goopy! Chopp basil leaves and add to spinach. Or, use about 1 Tbsp. dry basil leaves.

In the bottom of a roomy baking dish, spread 1 cup marinara with noodles, 1 cup cheese mixture, 1/3 of the carrot mixture, and remaining 1 cup marinara.

Top with more noodles, 1 cup cheese mixture, 1/3 carrot mixture, and the spinach.

Top that with more noodles, cheese mixture and carrot mixture.

Pour the Alfredo over the top, and sprinkle with 1/2 - 1/4 cup cup Parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake in 350 oven 30 minutes. Let sit 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Yum, Yum.

You may find that you like some variation or other of this recipe. For instance, you might like more spinach, and less carrot. Less marinara sauce. Something like that. So tweak it till you get it to where you like it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best Italian Food Ever

I don't usually post about food and cooking; unless it is vegetable gardening and canning/preserving. I let other food blogs do that. Like the Pioneer Woman? THAT's where I go for food inspiration.....
My sister came over the other day for some of her favorite lasagna and some Lord of the Rings; so I thought I would share this amazing concept of Lasagna with 2 Sauces.
It is a huge big deal in our family. And, it is vegetarian, as well.

First of all: I make my own sauces, and my own pasta. I love my pasta machine. I don't know what I'd even do without this item in my kitchen. I love homemade pasta. This pasta is made with flour, a little salt, olive oil, and eggs. The dough looks yellow in the photos because the eggs are my own fresh, organic, free range hen fruit.



The machine has 7 width settings. I start with the widest and go down from there. For making lasagna sheets, you don't want it to be too thin. I work the dough in quarters, and it is easier to handle in short rectangles than in long sheets.



After I get it smooth and in a good manageable length, Set it somewhere to dry a little bit before cooking. At this point you can also cut it for fettuchini also.
I usually dry leftovers for later. You have to make sure it is really dry before storing it.


These are the elements of the dish:


Fresh spinach and basil (if fresh basil is around. If not, I use dry), carrots, mushrooms, onion, garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, marinara and Alfredo sauces.


I cook the mushrooms, onions, carrot and garlic together. I cook the spinach, squeeze it dry, and add the basil to that. I mix Mozzarella, ricotta and some Parmesan together. In this case I used a jar of my own marinara sauce made with zuchhini and other veggies, and I make my own Alfredo.


Noelle layered the scrumptious layers.

Alfredo on top with delish Parmesan.......


If you want the complete recipe I can email it to you or post it for those of you who want to try it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holy Cow! Snow??????

Snow before Christmas in these parts?! I can't remember that ever happening...... nevertheless, we had a southern style blizzard yesterday! Here is our little farm cottage in the fluffy stuff. Lookin' all cozy. It is toasty inside, with our two big wood stoves cranking!

Lexy was with us for the big event, and we took her walking down the lane to the pond (1 mile one way) in the middle of the night last night! What fun! We went sledding, tried to build a snowman, baked cookies, drank hot cocoa, watched movies; all those fun snow day things!

Kevin had to break the snow off the bales of hay in the paddocks for the horses this morning.

A few of my babies in the storm; right before I put them in their cozy warm stalls for the night! These are some of my freshest off the track Thoroughbreds, rehabbing from racing careers; and getting ready for lives as "normal" horses doing "normal" things. It's a struggle; but it's so worth it. I love them; these horses are my joy; my heart;
my passion.

Just a few views into the blizzard of 2009.......
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Friday, December 18, 2009

The weather outside is frightful!

It's snowing here in southern VA! I cannot remember the last time we had snow on the ground before Christmas....! And, if I am not mistaken, it has been since the 1930's that there was snow on the ground in nearby North Carolina on Christmas. According to records kept at the Raleigh-Durham Intl. Airport. (NC is 2 miles from us.)
Anyways; the fire is quite delightful in the house; but we have to venture out soon to care for our horses. I am excited that my niece Lexy is staying with us and is getting to enjoy the snow!

She helped decorate the tree the other night...........

So far the tree has been safe from Phileppe shredding it. I placed a few low hanging ornaments for him to play with and that seems to satisfy him in that department.

And we made gingerbread houses together.....


...and I just have to share this shot of Phileppe, daintily sniffing the tree. It is Phileppe's first Christmas tree in the house experience; and today was his first snow also.... he went out onto the porch and sat down, looking around at everything covered in white! Then he promptly came back inside to use the litter box instead of going outside as usual. (Nice, thoughtful me; I keep a litter box in here for the cats so they can choose to go in or out...)
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Shop Update and a few other goodies

I wasn't going to, but I did: I stopped into my fave thrift shops today in search of some treasures. I got this pair of lovely vintage navy blue pumps; which are now in my Etsy shop. As usual, they are tiny and I can't wear them. :( Also new in the Etsy store is a purple embroidered pillowcase-turned-laundry tote I did; as well as the first of some hair bands I have been creating with NO GLUE. All sewn by hand using ribbon and vintage buttons. I did some for my nieces and had a surplus so I am offering them for sale. I think that is all the new stuff in the store right now.....
I have not been adding much new stuff, as I am working on my Spring item stash and building that up. Let me just tell you, Spring holds many new items and surprises and a totally new "look" for my Etsy! Think "Victorian prairie damsels....."

Examples of why it is a good thing to shop thrift stores: 3 yards of wonderful vintage red pom pom fringe for $2?! I was going to buy some of this off Etsy in the next few days! Pom-pom fringe is now my thing. I love it. It is so vintage. I bought some mini stuff from an Etsy seller and got hooked.

I also snagged this vintage 50's (?) watering can. The Antiques store I work in from time to time carries these for $25 and up. I got this for $5. Mouhahahahaha

And a quaint, sweet, soft vintage white pillowcase with candlewick embroidery and cutwork also. *sigh* This will make a lovely addition to my white pillowcase collection. There is nothing like a soft vintage white pillowcase in the summertime...........

Just thought I'd share! I hope you're all having a wonderful Christmas season. I know I am....! I think I am posting, like, every day recently?! :)
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Christmas Splat

We went to Lowe's and picked out a live tree; a smallish one - about 5 1/2 feet or so. Kevin trimmed it on the front porch and set it in the stand. Splat and Phillepe spied him out there, and watched from the door.

Kevin spotted them and decided to tease Splat, who desperately wanted to go out onto the porch and check it all out; but I wouldn't let her. I make her stay inside at night.

Things escalated....

Until she was climbing the screen and trying to claw her way outside to "daddy" on the porch.

I think this will be one of my favorite Christmas photos ever. Priceless.
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