Snack Bar Take II

One of our summer projects was to work on a snack bar in our basement for the kids to use when they have friends over, for birthday parties, etc.  After a lot of searching on Pinterest, a couple of simple ideas that were cost-effective came to mind.  A simple bar, chairs, a mini-refrigerator, some paint, and prints from ESTY helped it all come together.  The total cost (with the prints) was around $200. 

The wall was white and needed some color. We chose dark grey which we thought would go with some Norte Dame-type pictures or photos. 

The bar is made from popular that has been stained.  Brackets were purchased to hold up the bar top.  Very simple, easy to construct, and easy to clean. 

The black stools were ordered from Home Depot and came as a set.  Even better was the fact that they came assembled. 

ESTY has lots of great ND memorabilia and poster art.  Some are pricier than others. I also didn’t want a digital download so having the prints made and sent (they are copies) was a little more in price.  The frames are from Hobby Lobby ($10 each at 50% off).  I will never pay full price for a frame, ever.

The snack neon light was on Amazon and was around $30.  I did not have high expectations when I ordered it, but it is well made and works great. 

Now it is filled with snacks and ready for a birthday party!  Snack bar take II turned out awesome.  One summer goal down, a few more to go. 

Fair 2022

“I came, I saw, I conquered.” Jay Z

Another 4-H Fair has come and gone, and we survived.  We may not have conquered, but survival is the goal.  The fair to me, singles that the summer is almost halfway done which is crazy, because I feel like summer has just started.  Time flies…

The boys showed the most pigs they have ever shown.  They were more responsible, more engaged and did more work which is good and part of the process as they grow in older.  To take responsibility.  To take ownership.  To work, engage, and help others.  It takes a village to show animals at a fair.  It is a lot of work, time, and commitment. 

We could not show pigs without the help of our uncle Robert and his love of show pigs and his ability to be very patient with the boys.  My husband is a consistent helper and supporter as well.  We could not show pigs without them both.  As pigs need prepared for the arena, need in and out of pens, getting the pig to the arena (we had to take 3 turns, pigs don’t always like to turn), watered, fed, and keep moving, it takes 2-3 people (adults), all day long.

The Fair for me is about watching the kids grow in responsibility, watching them have fun and display their projects and hard work; for them to help others get their pig to the wash rack or turned to go to their pen; learning how to better show the pig next year; how to improve on their poster project, or what they can do to be more competitive.  They learn, they grow more each year. 

Here is to all the families that came, saw, and conquered the fair this year and survived.  You rocked it!  You survived and made memories in the process.  Being in 4-H takes a lot of work for families and parents. Kids cannot do without you.  Thank you to all the volunteers, families and community who help put on the fair and the animal shows.  You are appreciated. 

Until the next fair, may you continue to conquer and survive.  Enjoy the rest of your summer.  Long, Live Summer (with no more pig chores!)      

Project Dresser

I love working on furniture.  It was through my 4-H years that I was introduced to the home environment project that opened up this life-long hobby for me.  I love finding vintage furniture and transforming it into something different, purposeful, and beautiful.  I can see the possibilities by just looking at a piece of furniture. 

Our daughter was in need of a larger, dresser and she will be transitioning to a toddler bed soon (shedding a tear) when I saw a friend of mine posting for sale her vintage Broyhill dresser online.  For one, it was a steal ($50) and in great shape.  It was perfect.

This Broyhill dresser was very popular in the 70s and 80s and lingered into the 90s because it was well made, a popular style and it seemed like many of us shared having this same dresser or the whole set of furniture in our rooms as little girls.  I did!  This was my childhood dresser.  We had the set as well.  My sister had the tall dresser and we had the matching desk and hutch.  Like many of you, it brings back memories.  You can still buy this dresser online from Broyhill (and other vendors) for hundreds of dollars as it is now “postmodern” in style. 

To be honest, it was a good, solid, cute dresser.  But I knew I wanted to paint it and update it.  Magnolia makes a line of amazing paints and I found a soft pink that I loved (called Ella Rose).  I sanded the dresser down, then primed it.  I let the primer sit for 24 hours.  The paint was chalk-based, so I used a chalk brush and was hoping that these prior steps would reduce brush lines.  Two coats later and we spray painted the hardware, it was done.

Then another friend happened to put the matching headboard/bedframe up for sale online and we were able to get that!  Going through the same process with it and working on it this weekend.  What a transformation!  I am so excited to move these pieces (the twin bed will come later) into Ada’s room.  The dresser turned out amazing!  Perfect for a little girl’s room.  See the photos below.

With some inspiration from Pinterest and some extra steps in furniture cleaning and prep, I am so pleased with how it turned it.  I hope my daughter has many wonderful memories of this dresser being in her room like I did (and like many of you).  Project dresser was a success. 

5k Run

Summer Goal: Run a 5k

I have not ran a 5k in 10 years and even the 5k I ran 10 years ago, left me sore, unprepared, and exhausted. This summer/this year, I sat out with a number of goals that relate to my health and wellbeing and also our family and home.  One of those goals was the run a 5K and run it well. 

After having the baby in January 2021, then having emergency surgery and numerous complications and contracting MARSA, my body (my physical, mental, and emotional state) was very challenged.  I spent months with wound treatments/therapy; limited physical activity; having a wound vac attached to my body; being in pain and tons of medications.  It took almost 6 months to feel halfway like myself again let alone run or workout much.

I started running again that summer but slowly and steadily.  By December, I decided that I needed to work harder, push myself harder, and develop some endurance.  That is when I started to build up my running distance and pace.  I slowly built up to running 4 miles at a good, consistent pace, with limited challenges in breathing.  It took 7 months to do this (for me).  I also ran outside a couple of times to change up the feeling of running on a treadmill to running on a road/pavement.  Which is completely different.  A treadmill has some give while a road/pavement does not. 

On June 4th, I ran the Sunburst with thousands of other people.  It was kind of intimidating to get dropped off at the starting line and be surrounded by thousands of people who were lining up.  My anxiety was through the roof, not sure why.  Maybe due to the large crowd or the fact that I put in so much time and energy into preparing for this event/moment for 7 months. 

My goals for this run were to run the whole time, to run well, and to improve on my personal time which was a 10.14 mile.  I was able to accomplish all three with a personal best time (average) of 9.12 a mile.  That was almost a minute better than my goal.  I will not lie, that I am sore today but getting on the treadmill to walk.

I did this run for myself, my husband, my daughter, and our boys.  I did for us.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and also show my family that we can achieve goals if we work hard, be consistent, and push ourselves.  Running into the Notre Dame stadium, onto the 50-yard line for the finish was pretty awesome. I hope to run a few more 5k’s this summer but the goal for 2023 is to run a 5k with my husband beside me.   

The treadmill awaits…

Happy Memorial Day

No blog post this week due to the holiday weekend. Hoping you have a restful and safe time with family and friends honoring those who served and gave their life.

Freedom is the ability to live without fear. I’m sure we all feel fearful from time to time but looking back at historical photos and film, you can see fear in peoples’ eyes as they fought wars, ran with their children in their arms, left their homes, lost their loved ones; fear fills their faces as they look for food and safety. That type of fear we don’t face and hope we don’t have too.

Thank you to all who serve and those who gave their lives.

Summer Goals 2022

Each summer I set out with a number of goals.  Some are personal while others relate to our children/family as a whole.  I am sure some people think I am crazy for even setting summer goals but I am a type-A person, routine, structured, highly self-motivated, and goal orientated.  Goals help me grow as a person and help me use my time wisely.  Some of these goals have been part of larger goals set in January, such as running a 5 K this year.  Some goals have needed more work, more time, and more devotion.  See my list below. 

Health and running: I enjoy working out, running, and being active.  Since Christmas, I have been building up my running so I could take part in a 5K this summer.  On June 4th, I am running the Sunburst, and love the fact that ends on Norte Dame’s campus and you run into the stadium.  My husband is happy about this and he/Ada will be there to cheer me on.  I spend 5 days a week running and lifting.  This is my therapy.  I have learned that the older you get, the more work it takes to be healthy and in shape.  I swear I can just look at a milkshake and put on 3 pounds.  And if I drink one, it takes 2 weeks to lose 3 pounds.  Being older just means I have to work harder.  Consistency is key as working out or running 1 day a week or randomly, does nothing.  I will keep working, pushing, and getting stronger (for my kids and for myself).

4-H: this goal includes survival for all.  As the boys take multiple projects and I plan on entering in the open class.  Working on projects, attending 4-H meetings, working with livestock, working on record forms, reading all the rules, getting all the supplies, going into the 4-H system and confirming all projects, livestock, my DNA (just joking, but seriously) no wonder this seems incredibly intimidating to new 4-H families.  I was the 4-H Youth Educator and Extension Director for my county for almost 8 years, I know the ins and outs and still worry about messing it up.  But we will work now on projects, not at the last minute, plus the fair comes early this year.  Sanity, lots of sanity is needed. 

Travel: this goal includes making time to organize and plan trips and experiences for my family which I think is very important.  Even just day trips to places (museums, state parks, gardens, etc.) is a great way to build memories and provide exposure.  French Lick is on the list this summer, I have to attend and present at a national conference in Kansas City, and a possible trip to Springfield, IL.  Short trips, limited driving (Ada hates her car seat at the moment), and the price of gas is not helping.  But this is how memories are made.  I usually need a vacation after the vacation. But we are looking forward to adventures and making memories.

Home: to finish the snack bar is a must, we are almost there.  I am working on a gallery wall in my office.  White, blank walls leave room for lots of creativity.  I have been stockpiling pictures, photos, frames, and vintage finds for months for the wall.  We are hoping to put in a small fireplace this fall/winter in our living room as well.  A small, contemporary unit (not an insert) that we found that will look amazing and provide heat/flame.  We have some other ideas and needs for the house as well.  Any home, even a new home, is hard to keep up, especially in the country with dust, wind, weather, etc. 

Work/to Read: I just finished a batch of books this spring and started a new set about a month ago.  I usually read 4-6 books at a time and then end them all simultaneously.  I love to read and more so enjoy the physical book instead of reading on my iPad but I do have some e-books that I have worked through and audiobooks are amazing which I listen to on my way to work and back.  In the summer, I try to read more “fun” books and not for work.  Books about the Kennedys, the British royal family, and other historical topics of interest.  Some home design and landscape/plant historical books as well.  They are my idea of fun, maybe not others. 

I hope your summer is filled with some downtime, memory-making, and time with family/friends.  It goes so fast!  If you set goals, I wish you the best of luck!  If you don’t set goals, I hope you have a fun-filled summer!  Cheers to the summer, sunshine, and summer goals!

The Arizona Desert

A quick and great trip out west to Tucson which was amazing. We love Tucson and the resort we stay at, the landscape, the food, the sun, and the heat. Here is a short recap of our trip which started out with our flights being canceled out of O’Hare and we were 1 hour from leaving to drive up to the airport. Talk about a frustrating experience that seems more and more common now. We got a full refund on our flight (not a voucher, I would not take a voucher) and we were able to book flights out of Indianapolis that left an hour earlier and returned about 12 hours later than what we had previously booked. The flights cost us more, but it worked.

We rushed to Indianapolis caught the flight and flew into Phoenix and then drove about 1.5 hours to Tucson. Tucson is a great city! Surrounded on two sides by the Saguaro National Park, the area is filled with bike trails, hiking, parks, great restaurants, and lots of outdoor activities. The saguaro cactus (which is the large, tall, traditional-looking cactuses) line the roads, landscape, parks, and mountains. The sunsets are amazing, and the sky is always blue.

The Wyndham Grand Resort is a wonderful place to stay and provides a lot of great views of the mountains. It consists of suites, multiple pools, a tennis club, horseback riding, a great workout facility, a restaurant, live music at night, trails, and many other amenities.

We are hoping to take the kids in the future. The heat will challenge us all (76 degrees by 6 am in the morning and 98 by 10 am) but such a beautiful yet harsh landscape filled with life. The kids have not seen a saguaro cactus in person (they have in botanical gardens) but to see thousands of them is awesome. To look at them up close and see how old they are, and to understand their strength and resilience to the dry, hot weather is pretty amazing.

Upon return, it happened to jump from maybe 1 week of spring straight to summer.  Welcome to Indiana… Excited to be home but we can’t wait to go back! 

Early Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day: honoring all who love and care for others

This is an early honorary post for Mother’s Day as next Sunday, we will be busy but wanted to honor those who love and support others.  To all the women, moms, grandmothers, aunts, friends, daughters, etc. who show love, support, and encouragement to others.  Today (Mother’s Day) is for you. 

Being a mother is one of the hardest things I have ever done but also one of the most rewarding aspects of my life.  All women, who provide support, care, kindness, etc. to other human beings, today is for you.  Caring for others, showing unconditional love and support, and being a good, kind motherly figure impact so many people.  For that, I am grateful for all the supportive women in my life today, including those who are family and others who are friends. 

Women and their love come in many different shapes and forms.  Some women show love by caring for or taking care of others; making food, keeping their homes clean, washing clothes, taking care of children, etc.  Some women show love by devoting time to others to help watch grandchildren, to take friends and family to the zoo or the movies, or by just playing board games.  Others show love by physically holding, kissing you goodnight on the cheek, whispering “I love you” as you fall asleep. 

No one is a perfect mother or mother figure.  I struggle with times when I have not been the best mom, reacted the way I should, or spoke in love.  But I am trying.  I keep trying, learning, and want to be better.  Even when I stumble, I know that I can do better next time.  To those all trying, working hard, and growing as a mother, keep going.  You are doing hard work, you are doing great work.   

Today, my wish is for all of you to have a happy and relaxing Mother’s Day.  To keep on showing love, even when others are unlovable; to show kindness and the ability to care for others, and continue giving hugs and kisses.  You are loved, you are appreciated. 

Project Snack Bar

Our basement is a busy place and is consistently being used.  The finished first floor (that is what I call it) consists of a large playroom/workout space, TV and couch, a bedroom, an office/workout room (my space), bathroom, laundry, and utility room.  The floors are heated and we are so glad that our contractor insisted on that feature being added to the house.  Then you have a walkout sliding door to the patio.  I designed this space to be more of a recreation space.  It has turned into a man cave of sorts, but I still retain my office/workout space.  The teenage son has taken over this floor but we all still use it, a lot.

To add to the man-cave, we put a mini-frig by the TV and for Easter, the kids got a large popcorn maker which went downstairs (much like that of a carnival popcorn maker).  When the kids have friends over, this is the space they play, watch movies and stay for the night.  So, I decided it would be nice to have a space for snacks, popcorn, drinks, etc.  A high bar with stools, etc. where you can see the TV and eat but also keep food/snacks in one area.  Between campfires, corn hole, a gaming station, basketball hoops, and now a snack bar, we might not see our 14-year-old son again. 

This space/wall in the basement is unused.  It makes sense to take unused space and make it purposeful.  A cabinet had sat there for a year; some random pictures on the wall, but no one really used this area and I dusted it and ignored it.  Taking space and making it meaningful and purposeful is one of my passions.   Making it into an area/space that everyone will use and serve a purpose is very rewarding!

So, I started with a wall space that could be painted which this small wall and area are unused.  The deep grey paint took two coats as the walls in our house are so dry because of the newness of the home and the dryness of the home. The counter is a poplar wood stained in a Jacobean stain which matches all the stains in the house.  It is my favorite wood stain color.  We purchased industry shelf mounts for the top of the wood counter. 

As of today, the counter has been stained, the wall painted twice (needs some touch up) and black metal bar stools (2) have been ordered. A neon snack light is coming.  We are so excited to have this space updated and our children are pumped for movie nights and having friends over. Hoping to finish by this week and will share photos.  What I like about this small project because it creates a space that is purposeful, easy to complete, and fairly cheap to do.   Don’t be scared or ignore small unused spaces in your home.  They can really be a purposeful and functional area for your family.  I spent some time on Pinterest getting ideas/inspiration.  But at the end of the day, it was a simple and affordable update that will get great use from the family.     

Will share the finished pictures next week! Have a great week!

New Additions to the Farmstead

Meet our sweet chickens…

This past week we welcomed 4 chickens and have succussed in keeping them alive.  Not an easy task seeing how we live in a wooded area filled with foxes, raccoons, etc.  Each day, each morning, we drive by our little coop and hope to see no feathers and four happy chickens.  So far, so good.  Their names: Rico, Skipper, Private, and Kowalski.  Can you tell that an 11-year boy named them?  (From the cartoon, Penguins of Madagascar).  I can’t tell you which chicken is by which name.  But that works.

Another adventure besides the possibility of getting a few more chickens is we wanted to give fruit trees a try.  We love apples and raspberries.  So, deciding to purchase some trees and bushes was easy.  Keeping them alive is what will be hard. 

Raspberry bushes and trellises will go in another week or two (after the cold weather and snow leaves us).  The apple trees which arrived from New York will be planted as a group in another week with a trellis.  They are dwarf apple trees that grow much smaller but are easier to care for, easier to pick from, and easier to prune.  So excited about these new journeys and adventures.  The challenge, keeping them alive, keeping them from the deer, and hoping to eventually get some berries and apples in a few years. 

I will be doing some ph soil testing this week to see the ph levels in the soil in our yard for good locations to plant the trees and bushes.  The ph level will make or break any plants (level of acid in the soil).  I can also test for a number of other elements such as nitrogen and potassium.  Soil health is vital to plant growth, and we live on a sandhill.  Not wanting to set myself up for failure, taking the time to test the soil with a kit I purchased from a local hardware store is only smart to do prior to putting trees into the ground.

Hoping that soil temps increase with good weather next week.  The soil needs to warm up a lot in order for farmers to get into the fields for some of us, to get into the garden.  My garden going in the college greenhouse is thriving but not without challenge with cabbage worms and we have won a small battle against aphids but have found organic ways to combat these pests.  But I am ready to be outside.  To work in the garden. 

In need of spring, and hoping it is right around the corner… next week.