Friday, October 31, 2008


Happy Halloween, everyone! Have fun and be safe - remember light-colored clothes and lights and dress warmly and inspect your candy BEFORE you let the little ones have it! I know, I know - quit being a Mama Hen, right? :)

I hope you have a fabulous night - as for me, I am joining in on a staining party - I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!


Thursday, October 30, 2008


I get the craziest spam, these days. And, no, I'm not talking about the canned ham product made by Hormel. I'm talking about the junk that clutters your e-mail inbox. It seems to get weirder and weirder.

This week alone, I've gotten an invitation to take four or five jobs (oh, good - if there's one thing I don't do, it's work enough!!!), an invitation to invest in a great stock I've never heard of (with WHAT money???), an invitation to (I'm not making this one up) study nursing online in my spare time. What??? I guess that means I wasted those four undergraduate years - I could have just studied online, in my spare time. Does anyone ever actually fall for this stuff?

The best, though, is from a "wealthy" Nigerian investor, who wants me to help him donate his fortune to charity. All $18 of it. And he's offered me 10% if I give him my bank account number... hmm, think of what I could do with $1.80!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fifty posts!

If I'm counting correctly, this will be my 50th post. How cool is that? I can't believe I've managed to stay the course... especially right now, when I'm out-of-my-mind busy! I'll try to keep it up - I've made a commitment to keep blogging. And, of course, we have our giveaway -
if you haven't signed up yet, please do so. Who doesn't love a warm scented candle in the fall?

Char over at Pickled Pepper Patch happened to mention on her blog today that there are 57 days until Christmas. Yikes! 57 days?? I am never, never, never going to be ready. Everybody is getting a cookie for Christmas this year - one cookie, from a batch of cookies. That's it. One cookie. I'll wrap it in pretty cellophane and put a bow on it, though, because nothing's too good for my friends and family!!!

Have a good evening, everybody - I'm hitting the books and then hitting the bed!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Craigslist Ad of the Week

I think we need this for the farm.

Reproduction Pirate Cannon-Stainless Steel - $1000

Date: 2008-10-26, 4:34PM EDT

All Stainless Steel cannon with Black Walnut carriage. Barrel is 25 3/8" long with a 1 inch bore. Barrel with trunnions weighs about 40 lbs and the carriage is about 70 lbs. The wheels cost $40 each and have bearings and grease fittings. The 3 1/4" piece of stainless cost $360. The fuse hole is drilled 2/3rds through and will just need to be poked through with a 1/8" drill bit if you want to make it functional. The welding on the trunnions could be redone with a TIG was welded with a MIG. Selling due to layoff. Local pickup only...$1000 FIRM.

Pesky coyotes and skunks? Not anymore! Stray cats? A thing of the past. Noisy neighbors? I don't think so - not with a CANNON staring them down! Bwahahahaha - we could overtake the neighborhood! Aargh, mateys!

But, then, I can just see it. "It all started, officer, when the cannon went off..." Perhaps it isn't such a good idea, after all. Still, who else has a cannon on their farm? Not very many people, I'll bet! It's probably a good thing I don't have an extra $1000 hanging around!


Monday, October 27, 2008

A Warm Fire and Another Giveaway!

It was so chilly out this afternoon! I wore a light jacket in to the hospital, because it wasn't that cold this morning. By this afternoon, though, the temperature had dropped at least 15 degrees and the sky was gray... it was cold! I got home and Ron had a hot bowl of chili waiting, and he built a fire, and I had a glass of wine, and Melissa and her crew joined us. Nearly a perfect evening.

The princess is taking her social studies project to the next level, so we had that to talk about, and Melissa has an upcoming craft fair, so we had that to talk about, and I had a very good day at school today, so I had to share. Plus, we had some great jokes: "What's invisible and smells like worms? Bird farts, of course!" If you are eight, that joke is hilarious!

And then I log on to find that one of my favorite bloggers hit 100 posts and is hosting her own giveaway - of course, it's Kim at Simple Needs! Stop on over and sign up, and send me the teapot when you win... and the snowman... oh, and the melters... oh, and I think I know just the place for the stitchery, too. Really, you know you have no place to put it, so I'll just do you a favor and take it off your hands. Okay?? No? Well, alright then, but it won't matter because I'm going to win!!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Recruiting dinner

We had a recruiting dinner Friday night. A recruiting dinner is where an anesthesia group that is looking for new blood comes in, caters a meal, and invites you to get to know them.

So, I went. I wasn't going to go - I'm already pretty sure of where I want to work, and I don't want to move. But when I talked to my classmates, it seemed that most of them weren't going, and I felt like the group was good enough to come down and invite us out, some of us should actually go and make nice. Because if we don't, they may choose not to come out again, and that limits the options for those coming up behind us. Plus, I can't afford a nice night out on the town right now, so this was our chance to go out and have fun without wrecking the budget. Win-win, right?

They chose an Asian-fusion place in Knoxville, and catered a meal and offered an open bar. So, I had some merlot, and ate sushi and then had a nice sea bass meal. Some of the service was a bit odd - there was a maraschino cherry inexplicably on the plates, for instance. Not sure why, but there it was. Still, the food was good.

It was good to talk to other people who've recently finished school, and they were all very encouraging. Most of all, to a person, they said it was ABSOLUTELY worth all the stuff we're going through right now. And that's good to hear, because I'll admit that sometimes I wonder!

The problem? The package this group offers is VERY attractive. As in, ~20% more base pay, more vacation and the opportunity make significantly more in overtime than I could make here. Now I'm really torn. We'd never get rid of this place, certainly, but I could afford to support two places on that income, particularly if we just did a little house in town up there.

There's a lot to think about. The group invited us up for a weekend to see the town and the hospital and get a feel for the place. I think we're going to take them up on it, just so we're exploring all our options. Then, too, it's a weekend away and our budget absolutely won't support any kind of getaway this year. I'll post again after I go see what the place is like in person.

Meanwhile, don't forget our giveaway! Name your candle fragrance and we just might send it to you!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Meyer Lemon Glaze

Earlier this summer, I was at our favorite store (Lowe's), browsing through the garden department (which is one of my favorite things to do on a spring day), when I spotted some dwarf Meyer lemon trees for sale. Our budget wasn't quite as tight then as it is now, so I bought one, and brought it home, and traded out the ugly plastic pot for a much prettier one.

So, all summer long, the lemon tree sat on the front steps. It flowered, and the flowers smelled heavenly. It fruited, and about six of the fruits matured - not bad for a tree that's barely three feet tall! So, what do you do with a few tiny lemons? Make lemon glaze, of course!

Meyer Lemon Glaze
1 Meyer Lemon
2/3 c powdered sugar
Select a clean, ripe lemon. Grate the zest off of the outside of the lemon into a small bowl. Slice the lemon, and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Remove any seed escapees that have made their way into your lemon juice.
Stir powdered sugar into lemon juice by tablespoonsful until completely blended. Use more or less powdered sugar, depending on desired consistency.

That's it - it's that easy. This glaze has a bright, lemony flavor that combines well with almost anything. This morning we served it on hot blueberry muffins and it was to die for. The little lemon tree has one lemon remaining on it, growing and ripening. I see more lemon glaze in my future!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Craigslist Ad of the Week

I know, I know - I wasn't going to blog today. But last night I came across this ad:

Black Lab Sculpture
Sculpture of two black lab pups. 15" high. $7
Is it just me, or does this look like some sort of dog serial-killer trophy? Because I love dogs, but I am not loving the whole beheaded dog thing. At all.

It looks like their heads have been ripped off - check out the tattered bits of flesh below the collar. I don't know what these dogs did to tick this guy off, but if somebody finds out, let me know, okay? Because I do NOT want to end up like that!
By the way, Melissa gave me an award - check it out! :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

School & the Farm

I'm on call tonight, and there's nothing going at the moment, so I thought it would be a good time to update. I probably won't get a chance tomorrow. And, I was thinking about what to write, when it came to me: Anesthesia school and farming don't mix. The farm has certain chores and tasks that need to be done, and school requires a great deal of time, and I am always torn between the two. This is what a typical day looks like:

4:30 a.m. - up and in the shower.

5:15 a.m. - leave for the hospital.

6:00 a.m. - arrive at the hospital, change.

6:10 a.m. - get anesthesia drugs and supplies; set up OR. This would take less time if we had enough supplies for every room, but that would be too easy. So, every morning is a scavenger hunt. Sigh.

7:00 a.m. - meet the first patient, do a pre-op assessment and start an IV.

7:30 a.m. - First case starts. From here it's a whirlwind - finish the first case, do a quick clean & restock on the room, get the next patient in, and so on... I cannot leave the patient once they're asleep under ANY circumstances unless another anesthesia provider replaces me, so I am stuck in the room unless somebody stops by to give me a few minutes out.

11:30 a.m. - if I'm lucky, I get 30 minutes for lunch by now. If not, well...

1:00 p.m. - by now, if I haven't had lunch, I fuss gently to the anesthesiologist (a physician who specializes in anesthesia) who is working with me so that he or she will find somebody to let me eat.

4:00 p.m. - on a good day, I get replaced by about 4, but those days are rare. I usually have to finish whatever is assigned to my operating room. Then it's either off to class (1-2 days a week, most weeks) or I get to clean up my room, change and go home.

5:30 - 6:00 p.m. - Home! I generally feed the chickens immediately (because they cluster at the end of the pen when I drive up, wanting a treat), collect eggs and check water. I also water some of the outdoor plants, pick any ripe veggies that happen to be hanging around and sometimes do a little weeding. Occasionally I'll walk down and look in on the horses. Then I take my bags, go inside, get some water, hug Ron (my husband) and snuggle the dogs.

6:00 p.m. - clean up any messes, throw clothes in the wash, pull clothes and a lunch together for the next day, and eat dinner. I usually take a few minutes to check e-mail and update the blog sometime between 5:30 & 6:30 p.m., as well.

7:00 p.m. - Read and study. There are generally 3-4 chapters of reading that I need to do each night. I also have to track each case I've done (with all the attendant details) on a special case-tracking program. Additionally, I am working on a thesis, so I try to fit some of that in. If I watch TV, I do it with the textbook and computer out, so I can try to stay caught up.

8:30 p.m. - Usually by this time, I'm ready for bed. I try to push it 'til 9 p.m., but sometimes that takes more intestinal fortitude than I've got. So, I pull together the books I need for the next day, hit the hay and prepare to do it all again the next day.

This schedule isn't taking into account days when I am on a specialty rotation and have to be at the hospital as early as 4:45 a.m. (which means up at 3:30 a.m.) or days when I'm stuck in a room 'til 5 p.m..

My weekends are spent trying to catch up on some housework (which Ron and the boys do most of, so I'm lucky), doing some baking, trying to catch up on the thesis, trying to catch up on the reading and studying and trying to do a little farm work, such as clean the chicken coop or do some weeding. Oh, and I try to hang out with Melissa a bit here and there and help her with whatever project she's got going, but there's not a lot of time for that.

So, when I show you this forlorn little spinach and broccoli bed, you'll completely understand when I confess that I've only watered it twice since I planted it. :) Mine is the bed in the front. I am afraid we're not going to have too much spinach or broccoli around here this winter unless it comes from the grocery store... or the farmer's market!

My fall is full of specialty rotations, and if you slogged through the above account, you know what that means. Yup - an even more crabby, even more exhausted me. The garden beds are neglected (and likely to remain so for some time) and the animals are neglected, Ron and the kids are neglected... and Melissa and the princess are neglected... what do you do?

If any of you know how to make that cloning thing work, though, give me a ring, will ya? Because I could sure use some help! :)


Rice Cozies

Well, fall is certainly here, and there's a chill to the air. In my house, that means it's time to make rice cozies. Rice cozies are a great way to keep warm, especially when you don't want to turn up the heat, and they're super easy to make. Hey, I can make them - that should tell you something!

I made eight of them Sunday, and sent three over to Thistledew. The remaining five were claimed immediately, and the boys were clamoring for more. I guess I'll make several more this weekend, and maybe put together a few more for Christmas gifts. Hey, if you can only make one thing, it's nice if it's something everybody loves!

So, do you want to make your own? Start with a two pieces of all-cotton fabric (the all-cotton part is important - cotton won't catch fire in the microwave) cut to the approximate size you'd like for your finished cozy. Four by eight inches is a good size to start.

Put printed sides together, sew around three sides. This makes a cloth "bag" which you are going to fill with rice. I fill it about 2/3 full, because you want to be able to shift the rice about and mold the bag a bit. Then stitch the bag closed.

Heat the finished cozy in the microwave and the rice inside will hold heat for a long time. Start with 45 seconds of heating time, and go from there. Microwaves vary, and the size of the cozy and the amount of rice in the bag also affect heating time. I've had cozies that took one minute to get warm, and cozies that took three. It just depends.

You can also used dried corn, dried wheat or dried barley in the cozies. I've tried corn, and it has a pleasant "popcorn" odor. If you want a scented cozy, dried herbs can be added to the cozy before it is stitched up. Lavendar gives a nice, relaxing scent.

*******As with ANY heating device, use with caution. Anyone with potentially reduced sensation (babies, diabetics, the elderly) should only use the cozy if someone with good temperature sensation has ensured that it is warm only, and not hot to avoid severe burns. Test it on your inner elbow - if it is at ALL questionable, err on the side of caution and don't put it on your loved one!!!! *********

Diamond Threadworks has a good visual tutorial and patterns if you need further instruction. She also shows you how to make a nice cover to keep your cozy clean - we tend to use them for one season only because the kids are so rough on them - after that, they can be cut open and placed, cloth and all, into the compost pile. In one season, they don't get terribly soiled, so I usually don't worry about a cover. However, most of you are probably quite a bit calmer than my boys, so it might be worthwhile to make one.

Don't forget our giveaway - go to Brandyanne's Candles and Prims, find the "Clay Hill Scents" under the "products" list and come back here or to Thistledew and tell us what scents you'd like. If you win, we'll send you a 12 oz soy candle AND three Prairie Prim Pantry Melters! We're drawing the winner November 1st, so tell your friends to come on over and enter!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pledge to Buy Handmade!

In keeping with our theme this week, Melissa found a great site: More than 28000 people have pledged to buy handmade this holiday season. The site gives some compelling reasons, but my favorite is this one: "We are encouraged to be consumers, not producers, of our own culture." And it is OUR culture - it does NOT belong to Wal-Mart or Target or Macy's. Let's take it back!

The truth is, my talents lie in providing services (anesthesia care) and not producing goods. My handmade items are really only suitable to given to those who know and love me. But I don't want to be just another cog in the wheel of the commercio-industrial complex. I want to break free of that prison, and the farm, this site and my pledge are part of that break.

If you feel the same way, visit Buy Handmade and take the pledge. Join the Revolution!

Oh, and don't forget our giveaway! Help us support small-scale artists and crafters!


Monday, October 20, 2008


Okay, Melissa and I are hosting a giveaway in honor of our resolve to support the entrepreneurs among us. We've talked about it for a couple of weeks now, and, we decided that if I made something to give away whoever got it (and all of their friends) would immediately boycott these blogs, and Melissa is busy crafting for TWO upcoming craft fairs and can't really spare a minute. I'll tell ya, we were stumped.

Then, along came Brandyanne's Candles & Prims! Brandyanne's candles are well-known for their fabulous fragrance and they are made of clean-burning soy, to boot! Brandyanne agreed to partner with Thistledew and Clay Hill and make a 12 oz candle and three Prairie Prim Melters for our giveaway!

So, the winner could potentially try FOUR different scents for free! How cool is that? And, with Christmas coming up, the candle would make a great gift!

So, here's how to enter: visit Brandyanne's store. On the left-hand side you'll see a column labeled, "Products." Scroll down and see "Scents for Clay Hill Farm" and click there. Then come back here or to Thistledew Farm and post a comment between now and 7 p.m. Eastern time on Nov 1st telling us what scents you want if (WHEN!!) you win - it's that easy. Note: it has to be one of our special Clay Hill scents for the purposes of the contest. Any entries that contain incorrect scent names will be disqualified, and we'll draw again.

Additionally, if you'll mention the giveaway on your blog, we'll give you an extra entry. Link to all three websites (Thistledew, Brandyanne's and Clay Hill) and we'll give you a total of five entries.

We'll select the winner Nov 1st with a random drawing, courtesy of the Princess (who will NOT peek because she has a very strong sense of fair play at the moment!) and Brandyanne will make your custom candle and melters and ship them right to you. And, if this contest goes well, we'll follow it up with another, because I'm having as much fun right now as a kid at Christmas!

We'd love it if the winner would report back to all of us on the scents and which is her favorite, but that's optional - not a requirement! So, get on over to Brandyanne's and check out those scents!


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Support our Entrepreneurs!

Okay, the Christmas shopping season is approaching, as you can tell if you visit ANY of the big box stores... they have Christmas displays going up left and right! Much of our Christmas here at Thistledew is going to be handmade, because budgets are tight.

Unfortunately, for me, time is also tight, so I am pledging to support our friends and fellow bloggers who make and sell their handmade creations. I will replace any Christmas gift I would ordinarily purchase at a box mart or department store with the equivalent from one of our blogger buddies. Now, that doesn't mean much this year, I know, because I wouldn't be buying much anyway. But, next year - look out! :)

I am challenging all of you out there in the blogoshpere to make the same pledge - if you aren't going to make it yourself, and if an equivalent product is available from a 'net entrepreneur, avoid the big box marts and support the little guy (or gal, as the case may be!).

In order to get the ball rolling, Melissa and I are hosting a giveaway - I'll post the details soon! Stay tuned!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Craigslist Ad of the Week

I love Craigslist. I've found some wonderful bargains on there and even made friends with some of the sellers I've bought from. I found a home for two of our roosters using Craigslist, which meant two less that I had to put in the pot - hooray!

But, sometimes, the ads are amusing - intentionally or otherwise. The following ad, I think, falls into the "otherwise" category. See for yourself:


And now, the photo:

Cute calf, isn't it? But, do you see its underbelly? Either this "heifer" has one heck of an umbilical hernia OR there is actually ZERO chance it will ever carry a calf. Because it's a boy.

I think its probably the case that the advertiser just doesn't know that "heifer" refers to a young female cow... simply a misuse of the terminology. Or, that they don't know the difference between male and female cattle, which is kind of scary. Still, it gave me a chuckle, so I thought I'd share!


Friday, October 17, 2008

Cool Quilt Giveaway

Hey, I just saw this giveaway and had to post it here. It's an awesomely awesome quilt done in beautiful fall colors, and she's also giving away patterns! How cool is that? It's up at Pigtails and Snails but you have to hurry - she's ending the giveaway tonight!

Quilts are wonderful for snuggling under, or resting on top of, or just for looking decorative and pretty on a quilt rack. And we have an empty quilt rack here at Clay Hill Farm, a quilt rack that is just crying out for a quilt like this. So, on second thought, DON'T go enter the giveaway. In fact, forget I said anything at all. Okay? Okay? Hey, where are you going????


Thursday, October 16, 2008

My favorite magazine

Melissa will read the title to this post and won't have to read any further. She'll groan in mock dismay, like she always does when she sees that I have a new issue, and then she'll ask what sort of mess we're going to get into this time. And I will reply (innocently, of course!) that I have no idea what she's talking about, as I have certainly never been responsible for any messes around here!

The magazine in question is Mother Earth News and I love it. I have been reading this magazine since I was a little girl - seriously. My parents had a bit of a hippie, new-age bent (read: they were green BEFORE it was cool to be green!) and were regular subscribers. There were often ideas for homemade games and toys in the magazine, and I was the oldest of five children. I loved to make things to entertain my younger siblings. (Before you grant me sainthood, though, I should tell you that I also tormented them - once we convinced my younger sister to roast some ants and eat them - by eating some ourselves! Yes, even at that age, I was a brilliant strategist...)

So, when I discovered that there is a CD version of the archives of Mother Earth News from 1970 to today, I was beside myself. This is definitely on my Christmas list - or maybe I'll tell Ron I want it as a graduation gift. Can you imagine? Thirty+ years of green living, self-sufficiency and renewable energy in one easy-to access source. I think I might be in love!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Late nights at the hospital

I'm writing this post on a break - we have a room with a computer at the hospital that is assigned to our class. When we aren't busy, we can come in here and nap (there's a bed) or get some work done on the computer. Which is good, because we don't actually earn any money, so they might as well let us use our downtime for something productive, right?

So far tonight we've had the usual assortment of broken bones, trauma and hot appendixes that just have to come out. People come in hurting and scared, and I give them medicine to ease their pain and anxiety, and then I get them off to sleep so the surgeon can work. Pretty cool, when you think about it.

But one patient tonight really got to me - she was a teenager, here for school, and her mother lives in another state. Mom and daughter had to talk on the phone before the girl's operation - there was no time to wait. Can you imagine how hard that would be? And this girl is in a safe place - imagine those mothers with children overseas.

I know, I'm maudlin tonight, but I have spent the last several hours face to face with raw human suffering, and it gets to a person, now and again. So, even if you don't agree with all that's going on in the world right now, please take a minute to think of or pray for all the men and women serving our country, and all the families who wait and pray for them. It'll make me feel better, if nothing else!


Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

The topic for Blog Action Day this year is poverty. I think it is an extremely important topic for discussion, particularly this year. Here in the United States we're facing a critical presidential election, and an economic crisis of near-epic proportions. I am not convinced either presidential candidate has a viable plan for dealing with the crisis, either, but this is not a political blog, so I won't dwell any more on that topic.

Like most people, I don't have large amounts of money to donate to my pet causes. We grow some of our own food because we like the idea of self-sufficiency, certainly, but also out of necessity. Food prices are rising and if we want fresh foods, we have to find a way to produce them. So, perhaps I am not the best person to talk about poverty... but perhaps I (and others like me) are. After all, we're much closer to it than the Washington, D.C. policy wonks or the Hollywood crowd, aren't we?

So, what can we do to help? First, we can educate ourselves on the scope and extent of the problem. One of my favorite sites for obtaining background information on a topic is Wikipedia, and here's what they have to say on the subject: Wikipedia: Poverty. Wikipedia isn't the most reliable source for a topic, and certainly you need to independently verify what you find there, but for basic information, it's a good start.

Next, we can get involved in the public debate and policy formation by entering into conversations with our legislators. You can find your local legislators at Project Vote Smart Vote Smart. E-mail them and find out what their stance is on poverty; share your views while you're at it.

Finally, we can take action. I like the idea of sustainable agriculture and microfinance, so I keep tabs on Heifer, on The Microfinance Gateway and on Kiva.

If (like us) you don't have any money to donate, you can grow a few extra vegetables to donate to your local food bank. At Thistledew, the only thing we have in abundance this year is eggs, but eggs are a good source of protein, and they're versatile. So, I'll be donating some eggs to the local food bank - it's a small thing, to be sure, but small things add up to big ones, don't they?


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Test Complete!

So, I took my test on neurophysiology and neuroanesthesia today. Whew - I'm glad that's over! I studied like a fiend for that test, and I think (I hope) it paid off. I did guess on a few answers, but overall I'm sure I passed and reasonably sure I got a decent grade. So, we'll find out sometime next week.

Now it's time for some catching up - I neglected almost everything to study for the last week or so, and everyone on the farm has been very indulgent about that. I'll spend the next few days trying to make up for that to some degree, although before you know it there will be another test! Still, this is temporary, as I keep reminding myself.

The hens are starting to cut back on their egg-laying; we're getting maybe 6 eggs a day now. That's plenty, because we have a refrigerator full of eggs in the garage, and eggs keep for a long time. We could extend the egg-laying season by putting a light in the chicken coop, but I'm not sure I want to stress my girls to that extent. Eggs can be frozen for baking , so if we can put up enough eggs to get through the winter baking season, we might be okay. I guess we need to do some research and see how much stress the extra light really is and decide if we want to mess with it or not.

Okay, that's it for today - have a great evening, everyone!


Monday, October 13, 2008


You may remember, if you have read this blog recently, that I posted about buying hay for the winter. And I was happy, because we had enough hay in for the whole winter for around $600. And it was good, while it lasted, that happiness... because the horses burst my bubble this week. They ate a round bale in just over eight days. Eight DAYS. This means that we'll need 3-4 round bales a month, and that we have enough hay in to last through December, if we're lucky. :(

Really, it's my own fault. I should have known better. Historically, it has cost somewhere around $2000 a year to feed hay to the four of them, and we tend to spend most of that between October and April. Cutting the bill by 40% was too good to be true, especially in a year with higher hay and fuel prices... when something seems too good to be true, it probably is. I know that.

I was hoping to use the money saved on hay to gravel the driveway; I thought if we kept aside what we would spend on hay we could afford a load or two of gravel. Now we need more hay and we STILL need the gravel. It's always something, isn't it? So, does anybody have any hay they want to sell? Or trade? I have a couple of really cute chickens... or a pony! :)


Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Fruitful Weekend

We had a fruitful weekend here at Thistledew. Melissa had two bushels of tomatoes, and, brave woman that she is, she decided to can some salsa. And, somehow, we got the idea that there was a U-pick apple farm within easy driving distance of the farm, so we decided to get some apples, as well.

As with most of our adventures, however, this didn't turn out entirely as planned. The apple farms near us, it turns out, had already finished their harvest. Who knew? One farm had a poor harvest and so shipped apples in from North Carolina to sell - you might as well get them from the grocery store in that case, we decided. And we couldn't justify driving an hour to get apples.

Luckily, there's a produce stand nearby that often has really good produce for really good prices - we got a bushel of winesaps. There was an interesting exchange with the apple man who couldn't seem to grasp the idea that one might want to make applesauce AND pie in the same weekend, but we got our apples nonetheless. I thought Melissa was going to pelt him with apples for a minute or two, but she managed to restrain herself and we took our apples and went home.

So, on Saturday we processed a bushel of tomatoes and a bushel of apples, and I use the term "we" loosely here, because Melissa and the Princess did the lion's share of the work, and I studied. Hey, I have a test and we take tests VERY seriously around here! However, it turns out that the Princess is pretty good with an apple peeler, so we got through the apples without too much difficulty. All in all, we got about 7 quarts of salsa, several freezer bags full of tomato sauce and put sliced apples in the freezer and the crockpot. I got sliced apples and cooked some of them down to make a dessert topping, and we sliced some to take for lunch.

Finally, we made apple dumplings with caramel sauce and ice cream, and guess what I had for breakfast this morning? :) Here's hoping your Sunday breakfast was as good as mine!


Another giveaway!

Boy, bloggers are generous folks - you guys are awesome! I've "met" so many great people since I started blogging! Who knew there was such a great community online - and so many of you are so talented, as well. I am in awe!

Anyway, here's another great giveaway - she has two different prizes to give away. How cool is that - two chances to win?? I hear great things about her room sprays! So, hop on over to Olde Homestead Peddler and check it out!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Hello from Melissa

I have taken over Terri's blog for a moment - or until she catches me.
I was concerned that Terri's profile photo didn't accurately depict her personality. It is an invisible character.
I searched around the web for suitable clip art. I thought about a mermaid because Terri really likes to swim - but at the moment she is far from water so that wouldn't do.
I found this one with grapes, because she is very into wine for medicinal purposes, but it looked funny as an icon.

I then selected a horse silhouette but she is much more than just into horses.

I then looked at nursing photos but didn't find an attractive one.

I settled on this vintage hat picture.
This reminds me of Terri. She has beautiful features, elegant and sophisticated and she always wears a cap at work (I don't know what the technical name for the thing she must wear on her head while in the surgery room is but let's just call them ugly shall we?) I know every time Terri puts on that cap she must dream of a more stylish ensemble.
So from now on Terri can think of herself as this gorgeous vintage lady because let's face it, most of the day she doesn't really know what she looks like and if she thinks as though she's wearing a beautiful vintage hat, then so be it! It's kind of like short people don't really feel short and don't' think of themselves as short... until we need the peanut butter from the top shelf that is. Have a great day Terri, and know that now you look as beautiful on the outside as you do on the inside!
Now I shall log off and let Terri take back over - happy thoughts to everyone because This Indeed Will Do!

One Word Challenge

Amy, at Life in Pink Hi-Tops sent this challenge my way, and believe me, it is a challenge to answer in one word only! Oh, and Melissa - she tapped you on the shoulder, too, girly, so you might want to take a peek! :) Anyway, here goes:

1. Where is your cell phone? Purse
2. Where is your significant other? Bedroom
3. Your hair color? Brown
4. Your mother? Crazy!
5. Your father? Bonkers!
6. Your favorite thing? Sleep
7. Your dream last night? Farm
8. Your dream/goal? CRNA
9. The room you're in? Den
10. Your hobby? Sewing
11. Your fear? Heights
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here
13. Where were you last night? Bed
14. What you're not? Organized!
15. One of your wish-list items? Barn
16. Where you grew up? Georgia
17. The last thing you did? Bathroom (haha!)
18. What are you wearing? Jammies
19. Your TV? Off
20.Your pet? Dogs
21. Your Computer? Dell
22. Your mood? Frustrated
23. Missing Someone? Yes!
24. Your car? Battered
25. Something you're not wearing? Socks
26. Favorite Store? Lowes
27. Your summer? Hot
28. Love someone? Yes
29. Your favorite color? Green
30. When is the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Monday

Whew - that wasn't altogether easy, and I wanted to use more than one word on quite a few of those! I wanted to answer "undies" to # 25, because, like Amy, I have a somewhat warped sense of humor, but since it isn't true I behaved and answered honestly!

If I have to throw the gauntlet to somebody else, let me nominate Char over at Pickled Pepper Patch and my friend Lisa in New Hampshire If you guys have a minute, take the challenge! :)

Oh, and Lisa - I haven't forgotten your herbs, hon - I'm just swamped at the moment. Major test in 4 days and my anxiety level is through the ROOF! I'll get them out as soon as I can!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rainy days

It was raining a little this morning when I left for the hospital. The driveway, which is at least half a mile long, was full of puddles and the clay surface pulled at my tires a bit when I drove on it. This reminded me that we probably need at least one, and maybe two loads of gravel before winter gets here. The thing is, at the moment we don't have the $500 or $600 it would take to get the gravel delivered, and it isn't really feasible to gravel the driveway ourselves. I'm not sure what we'll do, but we'll need to do something. Sigh. I like rainy days, though, even when they serve as a reminder that there's yet another thing around here that we don't have time or money for.

Yes, we're building this farm a piece at a time, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. And it's true that we can't afford professional landscaping right now, nor can we afford to have some of the upkeep done. And it isn't much fun, looking at my view of the clay hill in the back of the house.

However, I am choosing to focus on the positives. We're all healthy. We all get along well, minus the occasional disagreement which we tend to settle quickly. We have some great (free!) hiking trails to get exercise and fresh air on. We have plenty of eggs (and the occasional naughty rooster) to eat. We can grow some of our own produce. The horses have hay for the winter. The dogs are content, and we have a cat to keep the mice away this winter. There are deer and wild turkey all over the farm, so if we got really desperate we could eat game. All in all, I'd say we're pretty lucky. I sometimes need to remind myself of that fact, you know?

Here's hoping that you are as lucky as we are - or more so!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I Want a Nap!

Let me just start this entry by stating that I am a big fan of naps. An afternoon nap is a great and wonderful thing! Naps make you feel rested and refreshed, and I really think I'm more productive after a short nap.

As adults, though, we don't get much time for naps. Naps are no longer the priority they were during our childhood years. We're too busy, life is too hectic. There are too many places to go and things to do to take time for a nap!

Well, I say we should change that. I say we should declare a national naptime, and I think the country would be a better place for it! As for me, I'm going to take my own nap right now! :)


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My fireplace

I was looking through some old photos this morning, and I thought I would share one of my favorite parts of our house with you. This stone fireplace was built for me by my brother-in-law (and father of the Princess) Dan.

Dan does wonderful tile and stonework, as well as some really beautiful woodwork. He is truly an artist with tile and stone and takes great pride in ensuring that each element of the piece is perfect. He handpicked each stone for its precise location on the fireplace, and I think the result is simply stunning. A thing of beauty, isn't it?

Below is a close-up of the mantle. Ron and Dan selected the wood and Dan cut it to size and sanded and stained it. I love it. It's large enough to hold photos and candles, but not so large that I can't stand close to the fire on a cold day!

And what do you think of my wall color? It's called "Hawk's Nest" - does it bring to mind a hawk's nest? Nope - not to me, anyway. But, I love the fact that it is a neutral color that is a bit stronger than a mushroom or a beige. I am now wishing, in fact, that I'd added a red wall somewhere into the mix, and I saw a sponge technique the other day that would look fabulous over these walls! It's probably a good thing that I don't have time right now for painting!

Dan hates the color, by the way. He also hates my yellow kitchen, and my green and blue bedrooms. He is too nice to say so outright, but I can tell by the occasional comments that the colors are just too much for him. Melissa gets my love of colors, though - hers is even stronger than mine. I can't wait to see what color she chooses for her craft room!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Fabulous Giveaway!!!

Hey, everybody - check out this great giveaway over at Tammy's blog - Entering is easy - just post a comment, and if you mention the giveaway in your blog she gives extra entries! :) Isn't the little bench darling? And the blocks, and the pretty leaves - love it, love it, love it! Hurry on over and sign up and help her celebrate 100 posts! Good luck!


Back Home!

Well, we're back from our fabulous weekend trip - we had a great time, as usual! I love Windy Meadows ( it has such a restful, healing energy about it. I always come home feeling refreshed. The little ones had a good time, I think, with the fairy encounter and the tea party and just running free on the farm.

Of course, when you come home to find that nobody has run the dishwasher, or run laundry, or done ANYTHING other than basic feeding and tending of animals, you get just a bit testy. Melissa will attest to the fact that I almost lost my composure yesterday evening... grrr!

On a positive note, there was some work done outdoors - some mowing got done, and some work on Melissa's siding, so the weekend wasn't a total loss as far as productivity is concerned. And, in five years, nobody will remember that my kitchen had dirty dishes in the sink for three days. Gotta keep things in perspective, I guess - everybody is healthy and happy, and the animals are fine.

Anyway, it's back to work for me - enough leisure! I'll post pictures as soon as I can! Have a great week!


Friday, October 3, 2008

Road Trip

Well, I am headed to the Fairy Encounter at Windy Meadows with Melissa and the Princess. We'll be gone for the weekend and it should be lots of fun, particularly as there aren't many girly things going on at my house!

Ellie and Randy Troutman have a great thing going at Windy Meadows, (you can read all about it over at Thistledew) and after I graduate we are going to do a girls weekend - go to a horse race, have a spa weekend, maybe go trail riding... it is going to be great! Assuming I survive, that is!

But, here's the thing - every single time I decide to go somewhere, I immediately begin to think of reasons why I shouldn't go. I need to study, there's work to be caught up around the farm, it isn't in the budget.... the list is endless. So, I nearly talk myself out of going, and then I go anyway, and I have a great time, and I manage to stay on top of everything anyway - EVERY SINGLE TIME. In fact, I'm generally more productive when I get home because I've had a bit of a break. So, why do I do this? Why agonize over it endlessly? I don't know - I really don't. Maybe there's a little hermit living in my head. I think there is. I think I am going to name her Millicent.

So, hush up, Millicent! We're going to have fun this weekend! Go back to your cave and leave me alone!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Winter's Hay

My wonderful husband, Ron, has just arranged our supply of winter hay! He found a farmer who had hay for sale, and arranged to buy the hay now, keep it stored in the farmer's barn (because we have no room - yet!) and pick it up as we need it. This is exactly the solution we needed, and, while it will be somewhat expensive, it won't be as bad as buying $9 square bales from the co-op, like we did last winter.

So, if there's a hay happy dance, I am doing it! In fact, I could invent one - wouldn't you guys like to see it? I am the inventor of several fabulous dances, including "Toss the Chicken" and "Monkeyshines." The princess and my children do not particularly like it when I dance, but I know that my dances are BRILLIANT. Those kids just wish they could dance as well as I do!

Okay, okay - I won't dance - for now! But, in the back of my mind, I'm already working up a hay happy dance.... now, if I could just figure out a suitable name for it!


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stressed and Tired

This entry will be short, because just as the title says, I am stressed and tired. Exhausted is more like it. I'm completely worn out, and no end in sight. Sigh.

I have a test in two weeks, I'm trying to launch the study my thesis will be based on, I am reviewing all the stuff I learned last year for a pending exam and I'm still in clinical in the operating room five days a week, with all the attendant study and paperwork. Then, there's the farm - but I'm not much of a participant on the farm at the moment.

Still, I knew this wouldn't be easy - I'd heard the stories. Marriages break up due to lack of time and money, people drift away from their family and friends and then never seem to find their way back. Some people are so tired during anesthesia school that they go get worked up for cancer, believing that the extreme fatique has to come from a physical source. So far, nobody has been positive for cancer - but everyone has been positive for stress and overwork. It's the way it goes.

I have an advantage, though, in that I have a very supportive family network, between Ron, the boys, Dan & Melissa and even Ashley, and my wonderful sisters and mother who call me now and again to reassure me that it will, in fact, end and that it will all be worth it in the end. And I can do this - I have to do this. I will do this. Oh, great - I'm becoming The Little Engine that Could!

Good night, everyone - I'm going to bed!