Monday, January 31, 2011

Hope in a basket...

Meet Hope.
Yes, that is her in the basket.
She arrived, a stow-away on a farm truck delivering goats,
in November of 2009.
And she stayed.
It was this time last year when she first let me touch her.
And she stayed.
The warmth of a family of goats was her shelter that first winter.
And she stayed.

So, of course, we named her Hope...cause she stayed.
That's what hope does -- thru all else, it is right there, has to be.
Sometimes we just need to find it -- or perhaps it finds us.

Now each morning, I start my day with a good dose of Hope.
And now, also greeting me in the barn are her children:
Whisper, Pumpkin, Marmalade, Cinnamon & Chestnut.

And at the end of the day -- it is to the barn I return to be reminded of
all things good -- with Hope always at the helm.

I will take Hope in a basket, in the pasture,
in the sunrise, in the sunset...
however she is gifted to me.

Where do you find your hope?

An additional note....
Meet Marmalade -- Hope's baby -- born this past September 11th.

P.S. They are hunting the coyote in the fields around my farm...
we see the trucks and the dogs that seek them out. 
They have taken over 70 so far. 
I feel badly, but yet they need to thin that pack.
The coyote will call out the meek & the mild.
Don't mess with my Hope.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shelter from the storm

My plans for my blog today was to take a little walk thru tour of my dining room.
However, those plans changed when we stopped at Stockmans on Saturday to pick up goat food.
I picked up a copy of the magazine, "MaryJanes Farm" and found this on the very last page.
I share it with you...

This is written by Rebekah Teal from her column "Here's the thing..."
This is titled, Shelter from the storm
     This column never turns out the way I planned.  I was going to write about those underground storm shelters you see in front yards.  Yet here I am, writing about a different kind of storm and a different kind of shelter altogether.
     It happened when I took a friend for outpatient surgery.  I brought along my laptop to get some work done while I waited.  There I was, minding my own business, when a hospital employee pushed an elderly woman in a wheelchair into the room.  He parked her right beside me.  The woman's white hair was frizzy and wild.  She wore bright orange lipstick.  She was missing a foot.
     I smiled and said "Hello."  She said, "Hello, yourself" and did not smile.  I asked her when she expected her ride to arrive.  "My sorry nephew was supposed to pick me up an hour ago.  He's not worth a dime."  And she went on and on.
     I asked if I could get her something to eat or drink.  "I ate in the cafeteria, and it was awful.   I might as well have thrown my money in the garbage."  And she went on and on.
     Wondering about her missing foot, I asked her if she had diabetes.  She quipped, "No, do you?"  She then told me about her brother in Alabama who has diabetes, "I wouldn't care if the SOB died tomorrow." and she went on and on.
     Her eyes fell on the TV in the corner.  I glanced over as Kathy Lee Gifford interviewed a guest.  "I didn't know Kathy Lee was still on television," I casually commented.  "Lord but I hate that woman," she began.  And she went on and on.
     I decided I'd heard enough.  I told her I needed to make a phone call, and I packed up my computer.  I headed out to the hallway, sat on the floor, and leaned against the wall.  Whew.  Peace at last.  I turned my laptop back on and wrote these words:  "When you're an old lady, don't let hate and negativity consume you."  Then I opened a document and started my column about underground storm shelters.
     And that's when it came to me:  I reckoned I could do with less hating today.  So I turned off my computer, packed my stuff up, and went back inside.  I took my place beside the woman.  I listened as she complained about her bank and her neighbor's dog and the electric company and weather and her health and her doctors and the carpet in the den.  She went on and on until her ride finally arrived.  I smiled and said, "Bye, now."  She looked me in the eye for a moment and said,  "Bye, yourself."  As her nephew wheeled her out, I noticed a dingy teddy bear poking out of her night bag that hung on the back of the wheelchair.  And now I can't get her, or her bear, or our encounter, out of my mind.  I wish I had asked her name.  I wish I had done something other than just sit there.

Here's the thing...Sometimes we're the storm to people around us.  And sometimes we're the shelter.

I will ponder that in my heart.

To find your way to this wonderful magazine -- click on the link below:

Bunny, doll shoes, bear & Raggedy Ann...all compliments of my childhood (smile).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pardon my pride...

Some times my heart feels so full that it hurts.

Last night was one of those times.

I participated in a Point In Time Count...
one night when across the nation there is a
window, a snapshot of how many people are without shelter. 
We were to count the homeless in Eau Claire -
a challenge to know this number in a respectful way.
We began the night at a community meal...
My partner for the evening was my son, Ian.

I watched him work with others....helping a young girl find just the right
color toothbrush from the box of give-aways.
Handing out blankets, socks...without question, suspicion or judgement.
Walking with me, reaching out to others, wondering about the disparity and
offering empathy & compassion. 

There - when he could have been home.
There - without complaint.
There - because...just because.

So pardon my pride...we done good.
Happy Birthday my dear Ian.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shawnee & McCoy

In my barn live 6 young cats.
In my house live 2 older boys - Shawnee & McCoy.

They turn 12 this week.

Brothers -- finding such joy as farm cats...
spotting a deer for the first time in our orchard.

Snuggled together in a basket just the right size for two.

Happy Birthday sweet boys!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

An Ode To Hearts

I simply adore Valentine's Day!
I love everything about this celebration...
It takes me back to days as both a child and then as a teacher
-- decorating & then filling the Valentine "mailbox".

A day for friendship & love -- setting all else aside.

A day when words like "sweetheart" &  "dearheart" rule.

A day for red & white & bits of black.

A day for remembering
(the house numbers in the cup are from my childhood home).

Valentine's Day


A day for hearts...for sweetness...for love.

Do you decorate for this special day?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spring Barn Sale - 2011


Just a little is coming.

And so is my first ever Spring Barn Sale.

May 14 & 15
Saturday:  9-5
Sunday:  12-5

The hayloft of our 100 year old Finnish Barn will be filled with antiques & vintage finds.

Mark your calendar to join the fun.

County Road R -- between Osseo & Augusta, Wisconsin.
Just 4.5 miles off of I94 - about 25 minutes southeast of Eau Claire.

Check back for more updates -- and the super secret discount password.

**Click HERE for more details**
**Check out pictures from the last sale HERE**

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Destination Living Room - home tour continues...

We wanted this room to say "sit a spell" --
and turned to the pasture, the meadow, the woods for our colors...
Brown, white, greens (with an "s"), and rose pink.
Wood & Lace & Chippy Paint.

By chance, we ended up with two love seats in this room, splitting up
furniture sets.  Originally, the green love seat with a matching couch was intended for this room.
However, when we were unable to move the brown love seat up the stairs to sit with a matching chair in the study...destiny intervened.  Why not have two love seats facing each other (after all whoever sits in the middle of a couch)-- and we would move the couch to the den.
To anchor the sitting area, we needed a substantial "coffee table"
-- one that could hold its own in this big room.
At a flea market, I found this green carpenter's trunk with a metal top...
and with rain showers beginning, $35.00 sealed the deal
(it was outside of the dealer's tent & they wanted it sold before rain ruined the wonderful green paint).
It now impatiently holds all the spring & summer decor for this room.

The wool rug in the living room was another interesting story of kismet. 
We were at the point in our home's restoration/renovation where we were going to pull up several layers of carpet in the living room.  We knew we wanted a rug underfoot (I like to be barefoot, and wood floors alone just don't do it for me).  I had my book of room measurements in hand on a weekend trip from our prior home in Sun Prairie to the Farm to do more work...when we stopped at the Tomah Antique Mall. Rolled up in the back corner of the mall was a rug with a tag that had the dimensions -- exactly what was in my book for an area rug for this room.  And, even better, on this particular trip we were hauling up our boat to leave at the farm.  We traveled the rest of the way with the rug in the boat.  When we eventually pulled up the carpets -- the shadow of an area rug that originally had been in this room exactly matched this rug. 

This cupboard was also found on a trip up to the farm during our year of restoration.
We moved from a home half the size to this
much larger farmhouse -- so finding
additional furniture was a fun part of this project.
We found this in the corner of a basement in Black River Falls.
It is two pieces -- with brown, green & off white.
It houses our stereo, bird cages & clocks (two of my favorites to collect).
The little green mirror on the second shelf from the top is one I just found Saturday antiquing.
**The door to the left is the original 154 year old front door -- with skeleton key still in the lock.

This is looking in from the dining room.
The white cupboard in the corner came from Beaver Dam.
The two windows are almost floor to ceiling and are covered in white sheer lace --
found at the Kane County Flea Market in Illinois for a song.
I picked the green paint for the walls --
because, well, I love green (same color as kitchen). 
All the paint colors are from the Martha Stewart collection...
and all the white in the entire house is "Daisy White"...
learned my lesson in our last house to have consistent colors for ease of touch up.

The brown closed cupboard behind the green love seat holds books.
Peaking off to the right is our dining room --
and the pie safe that holds all my linens
(but that will wait for another day).
Today the living room is dressed for Valentine's Day...
see the sweet little red chair and heart on the mirror next to it.

If you stood in the middle of the living room...
this would be looking through the dining room to the kitchen.
The white table & cupboard on the right is just for
my holiday "show & tell"!
The rug between the living room and dining room
was given to me by my sister, Randi.
She found it in a home they once owned in Madison
-- rolled up in a ball in the basement...she knew I would love it!

There is my "show & tell" shelf on the left
--- only purpose is to make us smile.
On the floor next to it (to the left of the doorway to our den)
is a stack of pillows for our cats...right in front of a heating vent
 -- insert purr here.

Current Valentine's Day "Show & Tell".

Again, standing in the middle of the living room...
this is looking into our den/t.v. room.
Notice all the fabulous wood work -- it was already painted white...
so I was thrilled to just repaint ---- ALWAYS wanted white woodwork!!
The little green dresser was bought at auction in Eau Claire
 and houses rotating display pieces.
On the shelf above is where the very first picture of this post (remember way back then)
was taken from.  The chair came from the Columbus Antique Mall...
We painted all our floors a pale yellow.

That is a little (sort of long) tour of our living room. 
I imagine that when I was a child,
the teacher rolled her eyes when it was
my turn at show & tell...
**Note to my sisters, Randi & Lori
-- did you know I once took
Tippy's kitten to kindergarten for show & tell?
Good news, my teacher adopted one of them,
bad news, mom was waiting for me when I got home.
Insert smile here.

    Would you sit a spell with me?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Grab a coat...

We are off on an Antiquing Adventure.

Snowy roads won't stop us.

I will tell you all about it later...
Wish you could come along.

Got home around 7:30...full day of antiquing...found 3 malls to explore.
Lots of items for the May Barn Sale and for the Hixton Antique Mall.

Here's a sneak peak...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Half empty or Half full?

I arrived home tonight...
tired of boots,
tired of climbing over snow banks,
tired of winter roads.
My list of "poor me-s" ever so long.

Then I remembered I had taken some pictures this morning
as I was leaving for the office...

The choice is ours:  half empty or half full?
Or simply enough to take your breath away?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My sweet kitchen - home tour begins here

Smitten -- yes, when we first walked into this 150 year old farm house -- we were smitten.  Granted, we had to use a little bit of imagination to see what it could be for us --
but I never imagined anything quite so sweet. 
I still often pinch myself to think I get to start & end my day here.

So, let's take a little tour, shall we....this will be the first of many posts in the next months showing you the rooms of this wonderful grab a cup of coffee.  The house is well over 3000 square feet -- written in the history of Augusta as the "large brick house built by Joseph Strader for his wife".  We should actually begin our tour with the side porch - a three season beauty -- but I will save that for a warmer day.

We enter the house from one of three exterior doors - through that large side porch into the kitchen.  The kitchen is one of two rooms that would have been the Summer Kitchen.  Most of the cooking would have actually taken place in the second room -- which is now our laundry/utility room (through a door to the left of this window) -- but that will wait for another day's tour.  There is also a second floor room above the entire Summer Kitchen which we have yet to open & restore (it is our understanding that in times past, hired hands slept in that room). 

This chair is one of many favorite spots for our inside cats,
Shawnee & McCoy. 
It has a wonderful view of the apple orchard.

When the house was reassessed recently, the appraiser was certain that we would have ripped out the original kitchen and redid it all with all the current rave.  Not so.  If this kitchen has worked for over 150 years, why can't it work for the two of us?  Sure it has minimal counter space -- but for that we added a round table right in the middle --- a free find from my good friend, Sarah.  Let me digress for a moment with that we were moving, I mentioned that I was looking for a pedestal table for the kitchen, within days, Sarah & her son Kevin appeared at our old house in Sun Prairie with a table -- they had just found it along the curb in Madison.  Kismet.  We painted it yellow with a blue top!

What shall I point out in this picture...
you can see the original sink -- love it!
The sunflower above was made by my almost 23 year old when he was in 2nd grade
  love it
Little shelves for my little things - love them!
And there's that table - love it! 
With painted chairs - read about them in an earlier post,  "Have a Seat Post" - love them!

Here is my color inspiration:
a charming vintage rug that lays in front of the sink.

Now we turn toward the original cupboard...the chippy green paint on the cupboard doors was found when I removed wallpaper -- that was after we had painted the kitchen the very same green.  Kismet.
The stained glass panel at the top was a Hixton Antique Mall $20 find --
we had it framed by a craftsman from our Amish community. 
Fit perfectly -- and is back lit at night.

The mirror over the stove is from Dave's childhood home.
I have also learned that with all my "smalls" (kind name for stuff) --
I need to leave some "restful" wall space for the eye to take a break.

I removed two cupboard doors for open is a close up.
Amazing what wallpaper and my beloved double stick tape can do!

Penguins awaiting Valentine's Day!  And this fab jar I found at a thrift sale.

Next part of the kitchen is where I write this blog from...indeed we have a study upstairs -- but alas, with dial-up internet access (yes, you read that right -- it is what it is in the country)  --- this is our phone line.  No way we could figure out a logical, clean way to get a phone line to our second floor study through a double brick wall almost a foot wide (that has left many a contractor both spell bound & confounded).

Through the door on the left is our dining room and then living room and then den/t.v. room ---
a walk through the door and then sharp left would also take you upstairs.

Several noteworthy items in the above picture:
Vintage green hamper next to stove now holds our trash & recycling.
Wicker table with computer was bought at auction -- it has a glass top --
I added yellow striped wallpaper from the dining room &
vintage postcards under the glass.
Large picture on the fridge is a "Bird's eye" photo of our farm.

Next stop -- back to the door we entered from. 
The large cupboard is noted in a prior post: "Hardworking Cupboard - Vintage with a Purpose #5 Post"
This cupboard is our pantry.
The little white dresser holds all those items you might need as you leave the house: 
lunch bag, purse, sunscreen.  On top is a place for Dave to put his coins, papers...
On the wall is a chalk board with current projects and a key holder.
The door leads to our side porch.

And there it is -- my sweet kitchen. 

Even the cats find happiness here.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour...hmmm, which room will be next?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Just a smile...

I managed to bring out my Valentine's Day decorations
-- and between starts & stops all weekend (still not feeling well),
was able to put some out. 
I do love this celebration - and the red, white & bits of black...with checkerboard.

I still own many of the Valentines I received as a child -- there is
one from Cathy, from my dad, from Jainie, from Margo...
I cherish these sweet nods to childhood.

This celebration is meant just to make you smile.
And we need that - right?

Saturday, January 8, 2011


I'm home, not feeling well today.
Do a little something, then take a rest.
So, it was with disbelief & such sadness that I turned on the news this afternoon to hear of the shooting in Arizona.  A Congresswoman - a Democrat, shot.  Many dead & hurt.
I tend to not use this blog to promote my politics, my beliefs....but I have to say this because it is time for all of us to say loud & clear (no matter what our own political agenda), "enough".  

To those that believe politics is about anger.  -- Enough.
To those that believe politics is about fear -- Enough.
To those that believe that when there is a difference of opinion, we shout it down or shoot it out --- Enough.

Please take your tea pots & your anger & your selfishness & self focus and go home.

Enough.  This is enough.

We are all part of the solution.  We are all American neighbors, community members, stake holders in a fair and peaceful and just world.   So on behalf of the child that lost her life to this shooting today...enough.

Peace to you...pass it on.
And prayers to all...we need them.

On a cold day on the farm...


We coax the goats outside with hay.

Kittens snuggle together for warmth.

Snow piles up.

And, I dream of spring & plan for the May Barn Sale.

What are you doing on this cold day?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I like "free"...

Some of our very best finds have come at no cost. 
Yes, I really like "free". 

It is harder to find, but every now and again you do.
That item at the edge of the road waiting for the garbage truck.
Maybe even a "take me, I'm yours" sign on it.

This fabulous urn was a free find.
Dave found it along the road.
It is large & heavy & chippy & rusted.
Did I say fabulous?

This outhouse was a free find. 
Dave found it in a cemetery down the road from our house,
on it's side...waiting for some sad fate.
The cemetery board voted to let us adopt it, even
helped to load it on the trailer....
and now here it stands in our apple orchard,
proudly holding baskets & a bird nest or two.

This charming little green table was a free find.
Dave found this along a country road -- lost & lonely.
Now it has a farm to live on happily ever after.

And the story goes on & on.  Found.  Free.  Reclaimed.
Reloved.  Found.  Free.  Reclaimed.  Reloved.

I do like "free"....and I do appreciate Dave's ability to find & rescue.
Yes, Dave -- I do believe you are an American Picker --- or at the very least
a true Wisconsin Picker.
You win (but so do I).

What have you found "free"? -- do tell.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Today was the day...
"next" was the cause -- with a lower case "n".

Time to put away the remnants of last year, pack away Christmas --
5 full containers & 2 trees.

So on went my "Pack it up Play list" -- shuffle please:
  • James Taylor -- Hour Glass
  • Zac Brown Band -- You Get What You Give
  • Beth Nielsen Chapman -- Sand & Water
Vacuum up the needles, leave it sparse (for a while), wonder how I ever accumulated (I mean gathered) so much stuff.  Attempt to organize a bit, wash rugs, vacuum some more, un-clog the vacuum, run out of steam.  Listen to my songs for what, the fourth time??  Could it really take so long to put away -- yes, it is indeed dark outside, animals hungry.

Here is my hint of "next":

Pulled the hearts up from the bottom of the bowl ---
still stars and a rabbit or two in the bowl...for later. 

Have you packed up your holiday stuff yet? 
What is your ritual to get it done and move on to "next"?
What's on your "pack it up play list"?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Those chances to be angels...

It is a new start, a new year...
a chance to empty the bowl and begin again.
To fill our time & our lives with what matters.

It isn't the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone
That gives you a bit of heartache
At setting of the sun.
The tender word forgotten,
The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.
Those little acts of kindness
So easily out of mind,
Those chances to be angels
Which we poor mortals find---
Margaret E. Sangster

I wish you peace, hope & good will in this new year.
May we each find the better angel in us.

Happy New Year!
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