Saturday, July 23, 2011

Barn Renovation - Days 2-8

Well, the south side of the barn is finished!!! Took longer than my husband hoped for but in this blazing heat I'm not sure what more to have expected. I personally wouldn't have done anything but sit still. John, however, is one who will work outside in the 100 degree temps, sun blazing on him, 20 feet or so up on a ladder. I tried to convince him to let it go until it was a little cooler but well, you know how it is with men sometimes!!!

Here's a picture of one of the horizontal support beams that the boards are nailed to. As you can see it is a rough cut from the tree. Look closely and you can see the bark!

So glad this side is finished. It is certainly the hardest of the four sides. Next we will work on the North side, the second hardest side. What will make this side easier is that there is a loft on this side of the barn. Hopefully not as much up and down ladders!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Keep It Simple

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We Call Him The Bunny Whisperer

We call my husband the Bunny Whisperer. He just has a way with them! This picture was taken from inside the house looking out onto our deck.

We've raised lots of bunnies over the past few years. We've even nursed wild ones back to health (that my husband accidentally hit with his tractor). He has even been in the middle of working outside and had wild rabbits run around him playing. They have no fear of him. That's why we call him The Bunny Whisperer. (I wonder if we can get a contract for a TV reality show!)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Barn Renovation - Day 1

The weather yesterday was absolutely perfect to start our barn project. Temps were comfortable, no humidity and a beautiful breeze!!! With just my husband working on the barn (and me doing some grunt work), we accomplished about an 8 foot section on the south side. This is actually the more difficult side to do so it's good to have started there. Once this side is done, the rest should be a breeze. We know that this side will be the location of the attached greenhouse. The way my husband is designing the greenhouse, he will even be able to put a deck above. Looks a little high to me but from the inside of the barn and if the plans work out the way we think they will, the entrance to the deck will be from a 4th level within the barn. 

Here's some pics from the work accomplished:

Just beginning to tear off an 8 foot section.

Working steadily!!!

View from inside the barn.

New wood waiting to go on!

John is very good about cleaning up as he goes along with all the projects he works on! 
Makes it easier at day's end!

Section removed and ready to go!

Measuring the first board!

Marking the cutting line. (I spy a little yellow chick!)

Now let me stop here for a minute to update you on the pencil!!! This pencil has been in our family for more than 20 years. Most men would use a typical construction pencil or at the very least a #2. Working on our former house in New Jersey and having two small children, pencils were not always easy to come by so you made do with whatever you could get your hands on. This pencil became my husband's favorite marking pencil. Not only does he use it to mark what needs cutting, he also likes to tease the dog with it. She has even gone so far as to steal the pencil on various occasions. Here she is trying to retrieve what she believes belongs to her:

Maggie and "her" pencil!

Almost finished!!!

Now in case you are thinking that I did nothing but take pictures all day, I need to tell you that I was the one who carried the old wood away, took out all the rusty nails and stacked the wood in piles. I also made sure that John had lots and lots of cold water. Oh, and I helped put the nails in using the nail gun!!! I actually put the first new nail in:

Not the best nail placement but hey it was my first time (not to mention it scared me when it shot in there)!

Hope I haven't bored you to tears but we are excited!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Barn Renovation

Our barn is probably close to 100 years old and is in need of some TLC. Last year we had a new roof put on our barn and this year my husband is going to tear the exterior wood down and put up new board and batten siding. We both tend to agree that we'd like to convert the barn into living space and we sort of have an idea how we'd like to do that, but as with any huge renovation (and we've done plenty), there are so many variables to take into consideration. We've gone 'round and 'round about finishing with windows, doors, plumbing, decks and even an attached greenhouse/sunroom but some best laid plans are worked out as you go along.

Here are some before pictures I took early this morning:

South Side

West Side
 West Side 
(I spy a red orange tractor!
My husband informed me the tractor isn't red but orange.
Goes to show what I know!!!)

North Side

 East Side

East Side

If you have any links to converted barns, please pass them along. We'd love to see what others have done and perhaps they would help with some ideas or suggestions. 

Will keep you updated on our progress as we go along.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

Just for fun, I submitted my Strawberry Shortcake recipe to Create & Decorate. Going through my emails this morning, I see that they chose the winner randomly among all the submissions. I figured I'd pop over real quick to check out the winner and see their strawberry recipe. What I didn't figure on or expect was that I won!!! I won a year's subscription to the Create & Decorate magazine!!! How exciting is that?!?

Here's my favorite strawberry recipe:

Strawberry Shortcake


4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
Vegetable cooking spray
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg, separated
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg white
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups thawed, reduced-calorie frozen whipped topping
Garnish: Strawberry fan

  • Combine strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Coat a 9-inch round cakepan with vegetable cooking spray; dust with flour, and set prepared pan aside.
  • Beat margarine at medium speed with an electric mixer until soft, gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, beating well. Add egg yolk, beating just until blended. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  • Beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add  2 tablespoons sugar, one at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Stir about 1/2 cup beaten egg whites into batter; fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a wood pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan; let cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Slice shortcake in half horizontally. Place bottom half, cut side up, on a serving plate. Drain strawberries, reserving juice, and drizzle half of juice over bottom layer. Set aside 1 tablespoon whipped topping, spread 3/4 cup whipped topping over cake layer, and arrange half of strawberries over topping. Top with remaining cake layer, cut side down, and repeat procedure. Dollop with reserved 1 tablespoon whipped topping; garnish with strawberry fan.

I hope you try this recipe. I've been making this for years and it is always a hit!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Did you know that depending on your soil conditions, Hydrangea flowers will be either blue or pink? Apparently we have a higher acidic soil, therefore our blooms are blue.

I think I'll try to dry these this year but I need to wait until the blooms are a little older before I cut them in order for them to dry properly. I've seen dryed arrangements in photos and they look stunning!

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Day at the Zoo

The most important thing in my life is my family!!! Especially now as a grandmother I realize that more and more. As I was raising my children there were so many responsibilities, or so it seemed, that were so important I had no time to enjoy my children as much as I should have. Now that I have grandchildren, I realize now that my children were my ultimate responsibility; not dishes, laundry, cleaning, friends that come and go or anything else that could have taken a back burner!!!

Grandpa and I took the grandkids to the zoo the other day. Just look at these precious faces!!!

How can anything take priority over the children? Such joy!

The older I get, the more the following speaks to me:

One Hundred Years from now (excerpt from "Within My Power" by Forest Witcraft)
One Hundred Years from now
It will not matter
what kind of car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
how much money was in my bank account
nor what my clothes looked like.
But the world may be a better place because
I was important in the life of a child.

Take time today to enjoy the gift of your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren!!! The dishes can wait. The job doesn't matter when you open your front door. Friends we think we'll have for a lifetime will probably no longer be around. The laundry and the dust never stops accumulating so what's another day?!? Time is short and each day is precious. You can never get back yesterday but you can make a memory that will last a lifetime. Take advantage of every moment God has given you in the gifts He has given you in your children.

These children, my grandchildren, are my heartbeat. In the words of my father-in-law, "they make my heart go pitter, patter"! 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Watermelon Sorbetto Granita

Watermelon in our area is coming into season and you can buy rather large seedless watermelon relatively cheap. My market had them BOGO (buy one get one) free!!! How can you pass up a buy like that? BUT, for two people that's a lot of watermelon, soooooo what does one do? Make sorbet of course :)

Watermelon Sorbet
  • 6 cups watermelon, cut into small chunks
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 TBS lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup

In your food processor or blender, puree watermelon until smooth. (Although I do like small pieces of watermelon in mine so I don't process completely.)

In large saucepan, add 1 cup watermelon puree, lime zest, lime juice and sugar. Cook over low medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add pinch of salt, rest of watermelon puree and corn syrup. Whisk until blended.

Pour mixture into freezer safe 9x9 pan. (I used a round metal cake pan.) Carefully place in freezer. Wait 1 hour, remove mixture and with a fork begin to rake through the frozen sorbet. Return to freezer. Repeat every  hour or so until mixture is nice and icy.

Perfect for a hot summer day!!!  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

FALLing For You!

Click on the individual thumbnails below to see some really talented artists at the Old Farmhouse Gathering.

To see all the items listed for the Fall Fun at the Farmhouse, click here!