Tag Archives: food

Back to my roots. . .

Yesterday, July 16th, I attended a Bradley family reunion at the farm of my cousins in Newport/Craig County. I had not been to a reunion since my Dad died in the late 80’s and it was held at my grandparents, Dewey and Mabel Bradley, home in Paint Bank VA. Most of our grandparents are gone and now the cousins get together once a year in July. My paternal great-grandparents were Ott and Melissa Carr Bradley and they lived on the mountain in Sinking Creek Valley.  This reunion was held at the home of Uncle Claude, grandfather’s older brother, and Virginia Kathryn Bradley and I was treated to a tour of the beautiful farmhouse.  

Everyone bought a covered dish and there was so much food including fried chicken, venison roast with potatoes and carrots, salads, desserts, homemade rolls and more.  We each bought items for an auction to benefit the maintenance of the family cemetery which sits behind the house on the hill.

Cousin Ralph and  Aunt Jean now own the house and land around it and are working like all of us that have old farmhouses to keep the house in good shape.  Old farmhouses are a chore to update, restore and make livable.  This one is gorgeous and I love the lower and upper porches on the front of the house. The banisters on the upper porch are beautiful and add so much charm and grace to the house.  There’s porches on both side of the house too.   While standing in the house the entrance doors and all windows were open which allowed a marvelous breeze to blow through,  making the house feel air-conditioned with 80* – 90* temperature outside.  While walking through each room of the house you could hear whispers of the family as they grew old in this incredible home!  It made me want to go visit my grandparents home and hear those same voices of time that I grew up with.

auctioneer’s getting ready to entertain the crowd. Left to right are Cousin Joe, Cousin Ralph and his beautiful wife, Jean.

Now, the auction was the entertainment of the day!!  Cousins Ralph, wife Jean, and Cousin Joe kept the atmosphere full of laughter, smiles and goodwill as they “tried” to be auctioneer’s for the absent cousin that truly is an auctioneer!  Everyone went home with treasures that others considered junk and a good amount of cash was accrued for the mowing and upkeep of the cemetery.

View of the side of the house with an enclosed porch facing the driveway.

Side view of the front with another smaller porch on the 1st story of the house. This faces the garden that Ralph and Jean work each summer.

Cousin Ralph has promised to take me and my husband on a tour of the farm, cemetery and old home place on the mountain when the weather cools.  In the meantime, I’ll pull together more information about my cousins, their families and our great grandparents.

What a wonderful and blessed day!!  More stories to follow of my heritage as the summer goes on.

 

 

1st Annual Girl Trip

This post is a little late but so worth writing!!  My daughter and I took our first annual girls trip this year and  I so hope we continue to do from now on.  We met up with our best friends forever in Norfolk, Virginia, where our Ashley lives and my best friend forever, Margaret met us at Ashley’s home for a long weekend in October.  We had a blast!!

 The Girls (top left to bottom) Me, Margaret, Ashley and Heather.  Ashley is holding Molly!

The Girls (top  to bottom)

Me, Margaret, Ashley and Heather. Ashley is holding Molly!

We lazed around in Ashley’s beautiful home in a historic district, we shopped, we toured some historic areas of Norfolk, we ate (no gorged) on wonderful food and laughed until we cried!

Ashley is a childhood friend of my daughter’s that just re-connected this summer and Margaret is my best friend in the whole wide world.  We’ve been through a lot together and she’s always there for me.

Here are a few of the pictures we took while on our 1st Annual Girls Trip.

I think this is the USS Wisconsin docked in Norfolk for repairs.

I think this is the USS Wisconsin docked in Norfolk for repairs.

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Downtown Norfolk somewhere!!  :)

Downtown Norfolk somewhere!! 🙂

Ashley's living room where we gathered in the mornings and crashed in the evenings!

Ashley’s living room where we gathered in the mornings and crashed in the evenings!

Her kitchen where we spent more time eating and laughing!  It's beautiful!

Her kitchen where we spent more time eating and laughing! It’s beautiful!

It's the perfect space for her two dogs Molly and Evan, precious Corgi's.

It’s the perfect space for her two dogs Molly and Evan, precious Corgi’s.

Ashley's backyard where we spent our evenings.  Surprised the neighbors didn't have us locked up for laughing so much!

Ashley’s backyard where we spent our evenings. Surprised the neighbors didn’t have us locked up for laughing so much!

We visited the Virginia Living Museum while there and it’s home to more than 250 species of animals found in Virginia including reptiles, mammals, birds and fish. They provide a sanctuary for orphaned, non-releasable or injured animals.

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Heather enjoying the sights at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News.

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Ashley checking out another exhibit.  It’s a wonderful excursion and we saw so many animals and their habitats.

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I can’t remember exactly what this part was but it was gorgeous stone work.

We talked and laughed so much that I forgot to take a lot of pictures but believe me it was a wonderful trip!

We all cried when we parted but promised to make it a regular visit and our hostess was the “mostess”!!  She introduced us to a lovely new friend Sally Haynes who joined us along with Ashley at the farm for Thanksgiving.

It was such a wonderful trip for me and my daughter to spend special time together and to be with such special friends.  I’m really looking forward to next years 2nd Annual Girl Trip!!!

Family visit with cousins

Vada is my and her Grandpa's little duck!

Vada is my and her Grandpa’s little duck!

What a very blessed Saturday I experienced with some cousins of my hubby! On May 15, 2014, his only surviving paternal aunt passed away. Peggy Ann was such a beautiful woman and I considered her a friend because she welcomed me into the family with open arms the first time I ever met her as did her husband, Dickie. Peggy Ann and Dickie lived in Lanexa, Virginia and have two children, Stuart III and Teresa. I’ve never met Teresa unfortunately but Stuart and his beautiful wife, Debra, have become very special to me and have been to the farm previously. They have a 28-year-old son, Stuart IV, and daughters, Heather, Dana and Brianne.  Heather and Dana had not been here before and were anxious to meet us and see where they’re grandmother was raised along with four other generations.
On Saturday, all of the family except for Teresa and Bri, but including two special son-in-laws and four grandchildren, caravan to Craig County to memorialize Peggy Ann and spread her ashes on her beloved mountain on the family farm which connects to our farm. This was the first time that me and Eddie had met Heather and Dana and their children. Our daughter and granddaughter joined us shortly after they arrived.
We spent the day with four of the most adorable kids and one being a seven month (I think) little girl by the name of Vada but I’ve nicknamed Ducky. I was in heaven!!

Dana, "Ducky" and myself

Dana, “Ducky” and myself

L J wrestling a huge bale of hay.

L J wrestling a huge bale of hay.

Lavar, Kenny, Ducky and Dana climbing the mountain.

Lavar, Kenny, Ducky and Dana climbing the mountain.

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2015-11-21 069This is Vada and her daddy, Kenny!  She never fussed the entire time she was here and took the cold on the mountain like a champ.

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Cousin Stuart was thrilled to be able to share the farm with his kids, son-in-laws, and grandchildren and they all visited the house that his mom grew up in.  It’s still standing and they’re hoping to fix it up a little and be able to come and camp out whenever they want.

Keep in mind looking at this photo that my husband is not a baby person. He's always afraid they would break. I think he got a little attached to this little munchkin!

Hubby is not a great champion to babies and never was but I think he fell in love with Vada and she him!

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He doesn’t let just anyone wear his hats!!

Victoria and Heather, my granddaughter and daugher , we in on the visit too. Victoria was ready to go deer hunting.

Victoria and Heather, my granddaughter and daughter , were in on the visit too. Victoria was dressed to go deer hunting but never made it to her deer stand.

Eddie and Dana topping the mountain.

Eddie and Dana topping the mountain.

Linden and Heather on the mountain.

Linden and Heather on the mountain.  Heather has three children, two boys and a girl.

Before they trekked to the mountain in the cold to spread Aunt Peggy’s ashes they all got to visit the animals, check out the cellar, hives and sugar house after we had a small lunch.

This was a day I will never forget and am so looking forward to a return visit very soon.

Successful Striper Fishing Trip

Friday night a week ago hubby accepted an invitation to go Striper Fishing with a friend of ours.  They left around 8:00 p.m. and headed for the lake and caught these beauties before the rain storm ran them off the lake.

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DSCN7157The biggest one weighed a little over ten pounds and the other two were just a little less.  Vince caught two and Eddie caught one but Vince had been fishing for them all summer and had enough in his freezer to them for the winter.

The next day Eddie took them to his “professional” fileter and this is what we got.

Pot full of striper filets!

Pot full of striper filets!

The first night i took 1/2 a filet, cut in 3″ squares and soaked them in salt water for about 30 minutes.  Then I poured a package of cornmeal muffin mix in a ziploc bag, poured about 1/4 cup of Old Bay seasoning in the muffin mix, sealed it and shook like crazy to mix it all really well.  Then I melted a stick of butter in a skillet and melted it to sizzling but not burning.  I poured the salted water off the filets and dropped each in the cornmeal mixture, zipped up the bag and shook to cover completed.  I let it set just for a second then shook again and popped them in the sizzling butter.  When golden brown on the bottom, I flipped the pieces and started sizzling again.  I tuned them about three times and then took out and placed on a paper towel covered platter. I served this with baked beans, coleslaw and a baked potato.  Best fish I’ve made in a long time.  The next day hubby fixed the same meal but instead of skillet he used the new deep fryer I bought him for Father’s Day and it was absolutely DIVINE!!!

My big question–when you going striper fishing again??  🙂

We froze the rest of the filets for future dinners and Heather got a few on Tuesday when she came to visit.

 

 

First Meal with Son and his fiancee

This is another late post but better late than never!

My beautiful first-born has had a lot of exciting things happening to him in the last couple years.

Shawn was the little tiny thing born in 1973 at 6 pounds 4 ounces and the new love of my life in June 1973.

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He grew up way too fast and we are so very, very proud of him.  He took a new job in Christiansburg a couple of years ago after receiving his Bachelors Degree in Engineering.  Soon after met the love of his life, Jennie Malone.

Recently got a very nice promotion, bought a new truck, bought a house AND got engaged.

Shawn & Jennie 2014

Shawn & Jennie 2014

Last month Jen’s mom and sister came for a visit with them and the newly engaged couple invited the family to a cookout at their new home and to meet Jen’s sister, Cynthia.  We had met her mother, Barbara, last fall when she came to visit and they brought her to the farm.  She and I hit it off right away and she’s a genuinely lovely person.

Eddie, myself, Heather and her husband, Joel met at the new house which they had put together after moving in within a month.  I was really proud of all they had done and organized in such quick fashion.  Eddie was very impressed with their new home and even more impressed that Shawn had a place all his own and not renting.

Anyway, back to the cookout, Shawn was the chef and I’m sad to say I didn’t get any pictures of that but what a spread they put out.  He has become the “Grill Master” and all he needed was a chef’s hat!! We had chicken which had been marinated in a special sauce that Jen got from another chef (I believe),  we had hotdogs, hamburgers and all the sides you could imagine and we pigged out.  Everything was so good!!

Then came the homemade peach tart that Jen made that morning which was great.  She loves making tarts.  I had picked up a strawberry short-cake on the way to their home (horrible) and she had also made another strawberry dessert that I didn’t get the name of.  Heather had made some of her divine deviled eggs and everything was delicious.

Dessert table at family cookout.  This is my son's fiancée Jennie helping me decide which to take.  We took all!

Dessert table at family cookout. This is my son’s fiancée Jennie helping me decide which to take. We took all!

Shawn’s best friend joined us and a good time was had by all.  There was lots of laughter, touring of the new home and relaxing on their huge deck on the back of the house.  We ate until we couldn’t move and there goes the weight loss program I’ve been working on again!!

We’ve all been invited back and looking forward to it!

Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow??

Can’t believe I can remember that nursery rhyme!!  I wanted to share with you the spectacular bloom my flowers and garden have provided this year.  Hope you enjoy the photo shoot.

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Green peppers and the plants are full of them.

Green peppers and the plants are full of them.

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Banana peppers by the baskets full!

Banana peppers by the baskets full!

These came from two hills and I cooked some with fresh green beans and we baked some for supper last night.  SOOOO good!

These came from two hills and I cooked some with fresh green beans and we baked some for supper last night. SOOOO good!

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Peonies

Peonies

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Lupine

Lupine

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Pinks, reds and white begonias.

Pinks, reds and white begonias.

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DSCN5215I had something blooming all summer and now the hibiscus, cardinal flower, hyacinth bean and trumpet vine are starting to open but it’s too wet to get new pictures.  I’ve had a very good year.  We’ve canned almost 100 quarts of green beans and hubby finally pulled up the last of the beans yesterday and fed them to the cows.  He planted turnips in their place and the corn should be ready in a few days.  In the spring the new rhubarb set got a great start.  The asparagus just wouldn’t quit bearing and the strawberries got a great start too.  We got raspberries and blueberries before the birds got all of them.  God has been good to us this year!!  Fall is upon us and soon winter will make us very glad and grateful for all of the bounty He helped us produce and these pictures will get me through the winter months waiting for spring to come again.  Our migrating hummingbirds have returned and I’m patiently waiting for the hummingbird moth to return.  Our fall calves have started arriving and the spring calves are growing fast!!  Life is good on the farm!

 

Mother’s Day Lunch

We truly had a wonderful day with my kids and our friends and it seemed to fly by but I guess that’s because we were having fun!!  The day was full of stories, laughter, getting to know each other and friendship.

For lunch, I fixed a vegie tray, fruit bowl and a small cheese tray.  I made homemade chicken salad, teriyaki chicken wings, and fried morels for the main course.  Of course, the day wouldn’t have been right with a big batch of homemade dinner rolls and loaf of homemade bread.  I made a cocoanut dream cake which was my first attempt at the recipe and it was so moist and good but I dread what it may do to my weight-loss.  I made a cherry crunch tart, also a new recipe, but I wasn’t real thrilled with it so that recipe is coming out of the box!!

Cocoanut dream cake for Mother's Day 2014.

Cocoanut dream cake for Mother’s Day 2014.

 

One of my guests brought some homemade cheese pastries that were so good and we had tea, lemonade and a new drink I’m using, called marguerita ade.  It is so sweet-tart and really quenches your thirst on a hot day!

Family, friends, and fabulous food, what more could you ask for.

Spring delicacy

We had a slow start with our asparagus beds this year but now it’s coming in with leaps and bounds!  I started a new bed last spring from seed and it’s starting to grow but will be at least two more years before we get any food from it.  Most of our beds are wild and started by the birds.  We’re sharing it with friends and family and eating it about every meal.  I’m sure we’ll tire of it soon.

As long as we pick, it keeps coming in.

As long as we pick, it keeps coming in.

Bags and bags of fresh asparagus

Bags and bags of fresh asparagus

I don’t freeze or can asparagus because I’ve not found a way to preserve that it doesn’t come out spongy or slimy.  Can’t stand that!!  We just enjoy it as long as it produces and as long as we’re not tired of eating so much of it.  I’m going to experiment with making an asparagus creamed soup and will let you know how that goes.  That may be one way of preserving it for winter consumption.

Weight loss update

On the 25th of March I posted about starting over on my weight loss goals. It’s working!! I’ve started keeping my food journal again and though I may not walk everyday, I am walking at least twice a week during my breaks at work and working in the yard or with the animals on the weekends. I went back for a weigh-in on the 9th of April and had lost two + pounds. I’m meeting with my weight coach every two weeks again.  The two new pair of pants that I had bought were size 14 and were starting to feel too tight to wear again.

Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in a size 14.

Gloria Vanderbilt jeans in a size 14.

The size 16’s were feeling very good but knew that wasn’t how I wanted to deal with this and I’m working really hard to get back on track with this weight issue.

My weight coach is wonderful and so encouraging. When I was dealing with my younger brothers health issues the anxiety was unreal and I didn’t want to burden my family with what I was feeling so I ate and didn’t exercise at all.  I guess one excuse is as good as any!!

I also have three friends at work that listen to my troubles, walk with me, and encourage me to keep working at it. Carol, Gwen and Kathryn make me laugh and feel good about myself. You guys are my weekday lifeline and I love all three of you!

My best friend that lives on the eastern shore it my other lifeline. We talk, cry, scream and do all the things that best friends do together, even at a distance, to get through the “bumps” in our lives. I love you Margaret!!

I went back to my weight coach Wednesday and have lost four more pounds in the last two weeks.  I was so excited!

I just wish the weather was more comfortable to walk in.  The wind wreaks havoc on my sinuses and I’ve gone all winter (KNOCK ON WOOD) without getting sick and don’t want to push my luck.  I will continue to take short walks a couple of times a day while taking breaks at work and definitely walk or work at the farm to get the exercise I need to lose more and replace the fat with muscle!

Hubby told me last night he could tell a difference and I know I feel better.  I really think the exercise, the food journal I keep and the not eating after 7:00 p.m. is the results of the weight loss.  My goal for the next 8 weeks is to lose 10 more pounds and I’ll be the happiest girl in the world.

Keep me in your prayers!!

Merkels or morels

Spring is definitely merkel hunting time.

Spring is definitely merkel hunting time.

What in the world?????

Morels are a type of mushrooms which can be found growing all over the world in a wide variety of habitats every spring. They are among the most prized of the edible mushrooms because they have a rich and complex flavor that goes well with almost any food. They also have a very distinctive appearance which makes them readily identifiable, assuming they can be found at all, since they’re notorious for being very elusive.

Like all mushrooms, the morel is only the fruiting body of a larger organism. Most mushrooms form a massive web of fibers underground called the mycelium. This web of fibers can be quite large, and when it decides to reproduce it sends up mushrooms, which release spores from the parent fungus. Mushrooms are quite appealing to humans because they are often fleshy and flavorful. Scientists have not determined why mushrooms fruit when they do, but mushrooms are usually linked with rain and heavy moisture. In the case of morels, spectacular growth patterns are also linked with forest fires.

We love to search for these delicasies every spring and this spring is no different.  When Mother Nature cooperates we feel like we located the “mother load”!!

During spring gobbler season every year, hubby and his friends make a day of searching for these tasty morsels in their secret honey hole.  As in years past, they did very well and these shots will prove harvest:

92 morels cleaned, halved and ready for the skillet!

92 morels cleaned, halved and ready for the skillet!

Some are golden, some are brown and some are white.

Some are golden, some are brown and some are white.

It's a beauty!

It’s a beauty!

Draining all of the water off so they'll last longer!

Draining all of the water off so they’ll last longer!

 

There is absolutely nothing better than country fried merkels, baked beans and macaroni salad for supper!!  Wish you were here to enjoy them with us 😉

 

My ladies are worth their weight in gold

Blue, green, pink, beige, light brown, dark brown, creme, winter white.

Blue, green, pink, beige, light brown, dark brown, creme, winter white.

18 in one day but maybe only 10 the next day.

18 in one day but maybe only 10 the next day.

Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.

Beautiful eggs of all sizes and colors.

17 eggs today

17 eggs today

A whole bucket full.

A whole bucket full.

 

I don’t think any words would explain myself any better than these photos!

My Recipe Box

I love to cook and have collected cookbooks from all over the place and from everyone.  Finding the storage for all of them has become a challenge.  Hubby made me an adorable recipe box from some barnwood and I’ve started taking my favorite recipes from all of my cookbooks and giving the books to my daughter, granddaughter and friends.

This is the first box he made me but all of the recipes I have won't fit in it.

This is the first box he made me but all of the recipes I have won’t fit in it.  It’s a 7 x 7 inch box.

The recipes I have won’t even begin to fit in this little treasure so he made me this one.

2nd recipe box made from barn wood

2nd recipe box made from barn wood

It just barely fits on top of the pie safe.

It just barely fits on top of the pie safe.

My newest one is 7 x 16 inches long and it's almost full.

My newest one is 7 x 16 inches long and it’s almost full.

I’ve only went through about half of my cookbooks and I’m only putting my favorite, tried and true recipes in this box.  As you can tell from the following picture it’s going to be a work in progress for some time.  The wooden box at the end of the books on this shelf are recipes that hubby’s aunt had.  I have a couple cookbooks I won’t give away because they belonged to my Mom and I would love to have a cookbook that my grandmother’s used but I seriously think all of their recipes were in their head and hearts.

My cookbooks are many and I've a long way to go transferring all the recipes from the cookbooks on top of the shelf and that's not all of them.

My cookbooks are many and I’ve a long way to go transferring all the recipes from the cookbooks on top of the shelf and that’s not all of them.

I also have a stack of written recipes I’ve collected over the years that have never been in a book.  The more I think about this, I’m wondering if I shouldn’t write my own cookbook and maybe name it “Country Girl Cooks” or something simple like that!!  That might be quite fun but very time-consuming.  My recipe cards are all hand-written and in print not cursive writing.

The recipe cards are on 4x6 index cards and handwritten.

The recipe cards are on 4×6 index cards and handwritten.

I have about three inches left in the box and it's going to be a tight squeeze.

I have about three inches left in the box and it’s going to be a tight squeeze.

I guess I could make enough room on top of the pie safe for another one.  Hubby is getting really creative on the project ideas I come up with.  My recipes come from friends, family, family cookbooks, old cookbooks and concoctions I come up with myself.  I do love to cook!

 

The Nasty Beasts are Back

I’ve said in the past how much I detest and despise coyotes.Well, we have almost a month to go for the first spring calf to arrive and nasty beasts are back.  Hubby set snares and has caught two, one young male and this huge male that’s probably two – three years old.

Huge coyote male snared 02/2014

Huge coyote male snared 02/2014

 

If there’s males around there’s bound to be females and their mating season will soon begin if not already.  This brute could take a newborn calf away from it’s mother in a matter of seconds.  A month old calf in a few minutes if it’s not with the herd.  Of course, these cows always decide to calve out in the woods alone and the babies are then easy prey, especially with canines like these:

Two to three year old male coyote.

Two to three year old male coyote.

There’s open season on them and several trappers are trying to help but Mother Nature gives them the inate sense to breed larger welps when the group get’s killed out or dies out.  We’ve lost too many babies to these predators and stopping them is essential to our farm profits each and every year.

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Not only do they kill the calves but they devastate the deer population, all livestock and will kill your pets.

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I hope I don’t offend anyone with this post but everyone needs to be aware of the problems this creature creates for farmers.

 

Weightloss update

Not only have I been bad about posting on my blog, I’ve been very bad with my weight loss.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were buggers for me in regards to exercise  but I did lose 3.2 pounds.  When I went to see my weight coach early January she and I were shocked when I stepped on the scales and we figured up that I had lost any weight at all.  I figured I had gained three pounds, not lost. I’m very honest with her about what I do each day and I keep a daily log of what I eat.  I’m still not sure what I did to lose but I was very good at our Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

I did go down one pant size since beginning this journey of healthy living.  I went from size 16 to 14 from October to January.

Size 16-now they're just quite loose

Size 16-now they’re  quite loose but still wearable.

Size 14-perfect fit if just a little loose.  I'm sure the washing machine will tighten them up, though.

Size 14-perfect fit if just a little loose. I’m sure the washing machine will tighten them up, though.

 

My new goal is dropping to a size 12 by April 1st but to do that I’ve got to get off my duff and walk or use my treadmill.

My treadmill shows, speed, miles walked, time walked.

My treadmill shows, speed, miles walked, time walked.

When I use it I usually walk at a pace of 2.8 – 3.0 miles per hour and I usually walk for 25 minutes which puts me over the one mile walked.  I don’t think I can increase my speed without stirring up my mild asthma issue but I can walk longer and further if I just put my mind to it.  I usually watch a DVD while I’m walking or listen to my new MP3 player my daughter got me for Christmas.  In my defense it has been quite frigid out with negative temps but that doesn’t justify not using my treadmill.  

My new goals set for 2014 are down another pant size, maybe two and get rid of the roll  that has taken over my waist line.  I got an exercise mat and some weights which I plan to use on the nights I don’t use the treadmill, alternating each night.

Exercise mat, 3# weight and 5# weights.

Exercise mat, 3# weight and 5# weights.

I have printed off a lot of gut/butt busting exercises from the internet and will make a poster board to use as a guide when exercising on the mat.  I have noticed that my under arms are getting a little flabby and I can’t stand that so the weights will be used to tighten/build the muscle in that area.

I’m still watching what I eat, how much I eat, and when I eat.  I’ve grown quite fond of OIKOs yogurt with fruit.  My favorites are blueberry and key lime and they are my between breakfast/lunch meals and lunch/dinner meals if my meal doesn’t satisfy me.  I absolutely DO NOT eat anything after 7:00 p.m.  It’s hard but I do it.

OIKOS blueberry and key lime.  YUM!!

OIKOS blueberry and key lime. YUM!!

 

My next weigh-in is next Wednesday–WISH ME LUCK!!  I think I’ve lost 14 total pounds since October.

Here’s our Christmas picture of the family and everyone says they can tell I’ve lost some weight and that it really shows in my face.

Family Christmas picture 2013

Family Christmas picture 2013.  I’m on the left with hubby and son.

Quiet weekend

This time last Saturday we were all preparing for a 40th birthday for my baby boy!    First there was the outside preparation of mowing, setting up games, cleaning up the paddle boat, most of which my hubby and my daughter did while I was at work.

Balloons in place

Balloons in place

Seating for everyone.

Seating for everyone.

Yard is mowed and gazebo ready for party.

Yard is mowed and gazebo ready for party.

BIG 4 0!!!

BIG 4 0!!!

 

Saturday arrives and we’re doing last minute things at the farm.  Heather goes to Roanoke to pick up the birthday cake and pick up the hotdog and hamburger buns I forgot the day before.  The cake is designed to show the past and the present.  Shawn had so many superheroes when he was growing up and it was appropriate that the new Superman movie opened this year the week of his birthday.  He just graduated with a Masters in Civil Engineering from Old Dominion University in Norfolk Virginia.  He’s had his associate’s degree for quite some time and finally decided it was time to work on the other.  We are all so very proud of him!!

Spiderman throwing his web over Old Dominion University.  Spidey was Shawn superhero when growing up and he just graduated from ODU with a Masters in Civil Engineering.

Spiderman throwing his web over Old Dominion University. Spidey was Shawn superhero when growing up and he just graduated from ODU with a Masters in Civil Engineering.

 

The CAKE!

The CAKE!

 

Birthday banner.

Birthday banner.

 

Plenty of cold drinks on hand.

Plenty of cold drinks on hand.

Now, all of the guests have arrived and here’s some pictures of the birthday party, guests, games and more!

Plenty of cold drinks on hand.

Plenty of cold drinks on hand.

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Shawns 40th blowout

Volley ball was a big hit as was badminton.

Volley ball was a big hit as was badminton.

Victoiria and Jason enjoyed themselves.

Victoiria and Jason enjoyed themselves.

Keith & KIm, Matt, Tim and Jason, all friends of Shawns and work mates.

Keith & KIm, Matt, Tim and Jason, all friends of Shawns and work mates.

Shawn and Christine join Shannon and Lisa for the meal.

Shawn and Christine join Shannon and Lisa for the meal.

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Shannon and Lisa meet Christine for the first time, I think!

Shannon and Lisa meet Christine for the first time, I think!

Shawn & Christine wait for the guests and point to the parking.

Shawn & Christine wait for the guests and point to the parking.

Dad and Mom enjoy the festivities too!  Our little boy is all grown up!

Dad and Mom enjoy the festivities too! Our little boy is all grown up!

Dean, my baby brother that lives with us, even joined the festivities.  He doesn't like crowds.

Dean, my baby brother that lives with us, even joined the festivities. He doesn’t like crowds.

Vicotoria was my photographer.

Vicotoria was my photographer.

Hubby was the chef!!

Hubby was the chef!!

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And a few more pictures of the evening.

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This is a family friend that joined us.  Jimmy watched Shawn grow up right along with us!DSCN3893

 

Waiting for his guests to arrive!!

Kevin & Tim

Keith, Christine, Kevin & Tim

Off to see Annabelle

Off to see Annabelle

Kevin Shannon and Shawn

Jason, Shannon and Shawn

Now it’s time for the wonderful slide show that Christine prepared.  She used 155 photos I sent her along with some of her own and made a history of Shawn’s life from birth to the present.  I got so emotional watching him grow up all over again.  Shawn and I both cried at the end and ended up in hugging each other so tight and crying like babies.  Christine did a wonderful job and Tim set up the movie screen for us.  I’ll never forget the show for the rest of my life and am tearing up now just talking about it.  It’s just so hard to believe he’s 40 years old.   On with the cake!!

The CAKE!

The CAKE!

Waiting for the cake

Waiting for the cake

The cake is lit!

The cake is lit!

 

Does he have enough to blow out 40 candles???

Does he have enough to blow out 40 candles???

Keith, Kim, Matt, Tim & Ellen eating birthday cake!

Keith, Kim, Matt, Tim & Ellen eating birthday cake!

And now the end of the party grows near and Shawn HAS TO HAVE fireworks!!

 

 

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Fireworks last about 30 minutes.

Fireworks last about 30 minutes.

The sky was lit up!!

The sky was lit up!!

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The fireworks at the end of the night were awesome!!

The fireworks at the end of the night were awesome!!

 

And we couldn’t possibly end the evening without Victoria lighting up the group with sparklers!!

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Victoria with some heavy duty sparklers.

Victoria with some heavy duty sparklers.

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At 10:30 everyone started helping clean up the aftermath, hugging and promising to come back to the farm real soon and going home!!  I think it’s a party/birthday that Shawn will never forget!!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY BOY!!!  Mama loves you!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprucing up the gazebo and summer fun at the pond

I’ve worked around the gazebo a few days in the last two weeks and it’s so peaceful sitting in there.  My beautiful daughter bought me two Boston ferns for Mother’s day and they are gracing each side.  I planted a orange and a yellow trumpet vine on the back side in hopes of providing a little shade in the August afternoons.  It may be a couple of August’s before they get big enough to do that but I’m also thinking about making a Roman shade to go on the west side for the evening relaxation.  The paddle boat has been cleaned up and ready to launch.  The picnic table needed some repair work which hubby took care of.  Don’t you think this is a wonderful spot to relax and just a few steps from my front door.

Ready for Summer 2013

Ready for Summer 2013

 

Place to sit, boat to pedal, picnic table to eat at, who could ask for anything more??

Place to sit, boat to pedal, picnic table to eat at, who could ask for anything more??

 

Picnic table and boat house full of fishing gear.

Picnic table and boat house full of fishing gear.

 

100 yards from the house!

100 yards from the house!

 

SUMMER IS GOING TO BE FUN & RELAXING!! 😉

 

 

 

Miracle Cookies

These are quick and you’ll think what kind of mess have I made but trust me, they’re the quickest peanut butter cookies you’ll ever make and they’re gluten free!!

Miracle Cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter

1 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons warm water

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine peanut butter and sugar and mix well.  Stir in beaten egg, water and vanilla.
Drop by teaspoon (for small ones) or tablespoon (for large ones) on greased cookie sheet.  Mine looked like little mounds of soft icing and that’s when I was sure I had a mess!   Bake at 350* for no more than 10 minutes (small), 12 minutes (large).  Cool before removing from cookie sheet and place in airtight cookie keeper.  I’ll bet they won’t last long!!  I has about a 1/2 inch between each spoonful before baking.  You should have about an inch between the large ones because they will spread out.  They’re a light thin cookie but soooooo good!

Miracle Peanut Butter Cookies

Miracle Peanut Butter Cookies

They’re quick and easy and soooooo good!!

Taking a break tonight and. . .

thought I would share a recipe from the weekend with the granddaughter.

SIMPLE CHOCOLATE TREAT

12 oz chocolate chips

12 oz butterscotch chips

2 T. peanut butter

2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

Melt chips in double boiler, stirring often.  This will seem dry and clumpy.  Add the peanut butter and stir well.  The peanut butter heated in the chips makes it real creamy and soon very workable.   Stir well and add nuts and mix well.  Drop by teaspoon full on wax or parchment paper.  Cool until chips set up again.  Really good.

Variation:

Use peanut butter chips in place of butterscotch chips.

Use pretzels broken up, peanuts, cashews, anything salty in place of the pecans or walnuts.

These variations make for quick batches and it looks like you’ve slaved over them!  🙂

Chocolate peanut pretzel candy

Chocolate peanut pretzel candy

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

I just want to wish everyone a very blessed Thanksgiving!  My home computer is still down and the reason I haven’t posted or responded to your posts.  Hopefully back up soon and playing catch up!!

I am thankful for my beautiful family, my friends, my job, the bounty God has provided us and I hope you all are as equally blessed as I am!!

Until next time!!

Thanksgiving dinner 2011-after everyone is finished eating.

Thanksgiving dinner 2011-after everyone is finished eating.

Rita

Aroma of fall in my kitchen

Fall and cooler weather heighten the senses at my house.  Cooking seems to peak when the seasons change at my house.  The smell of bread rising and then baking was quite profound in my house on Saturday and Sunday.  Fresh loaf bread and rolls make everyone hungry.

Fresh white bread

Fresh white bread

 

We have to have something sweet for dessert or late night TV.  How about these?

Custard Pies

Custard Pies

I made these custard pies for hubby last weekend.  They were so good–I couldn’t let him eat all of them!

 

Lemon Pound Cake

Lemon Pound Cake

Everybody's favorite, Preacher Cookies

Everybody’s favorite, Preacher Cookies

 

Recipes will follow in the near future.

The year is almost three quarters gone and what did I do?

                                                                                                                                                                    January -Ice and snow

February-Making maple syrup

January-February – grafting fruit trees

February – March – Seedlings started

March – Baby calves arrive

March-April – Spring turkey hunting for two of my favorite people.

April – fire wood for winter 2012

April – New equipment for working the cattle

April – More new fencing

May – Gardening begins

May – Honeybees cleaning house and we prepare for fresh honey

May – Bee swarming begins

May – Fruit trees bloom and we worry about late frosts.

June 2012 – 1st ever “duratio” in our neck of the woods. Lots of cleanup and keeping hubby busy!

June – Duratio takes down lots of our fruit and nut crop and wreaks havoc on our fencing.

June – Hay time

June – Hay lot is full!

July – Spring cleaning almost done!

July – Harvesting & canning for winter in full swing!

July – A little crafting along the way makes life fun!

July – First barn quilt in Craig County on the barn!! More fun!

August-September – Mammoth pumpkin from the garden. He almost didn’t fit the wheel barrow!

July – August – Fresh vegies from the garden.

September – Potatoes harvested and in the cellar.

September – Plowing to sow the winter crops (turnips & parsnips).

September – Spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce from the last of the tomatoes.

And, here it is the end of September.  Deer season and turkey season is soon to be here.  Baby calves are coming and yearlings are headed to the market.  Two nights of cold temps and frost in the mornings means firing up the wood stoves.  The cycle starts again.

Deer and bow season

The cellar shelves are full, it’s almost time to dig the potatoes and fill the potato bin and the freezers have been organized to determine how much venison and turkey we will need for the winter months.  This all leads up to the hunting season in our area.  We, my husband, myself, daughter, and granddaughter are all avid hunters.  My son and son-in-law love the meat from our hunts but don’t like the hunt itself.  By the end of November, the freezers will be full of all cuts of venison and turkey.  We will have cubed steak, burger, chunks, tenderloin, roasts, and hams and all so healthy for us.

Back to the hunt!  We each have our favorite hunting spots on the farm and hubby is our counselor, tracker and processor!  We’ve spotted so many large bucks on the farm already and the turkeys are showing up sporadically.  I won’t have much vacation this year to hunt but Saturdays are always open and I’ll have a late bow season during our Christmas break.

Our daughter and granddaughter are evening hunters and working half days are ideal for her hunting quests and our granddaughter gets home from school between 3:30 and 4:00 which gives her time to get to her stand as well.

We normally have a few friends join us during the hunting season but have decided this year to keep it strictly family hunting.  We have some new neighbors and not knowing their where-a-bouts tends to make us a little skiddish and for safety purposes and liability.  Our county is 60%+ National Forest and we think other hunters would be better in those woods than ours.  In the past we have told all non-family hunters where to go and asked them to stay in their area to prevent any hunting accidents.  These instructions aren’t always followed and that makes us liable for their safety when they move into an area that we may not know is safe from trespassers or others that aren’t staying where they need to be.  Hunting safety is a VERY BIG issue with us!

Don’t get me wrong, we love the sport but we also like to eat and venison is a healthy choice not only for our diet but our pocketbooks.  We want everyone on the farm to be safe and come in with a good hunting harvest and do it safely!!

Happy hunting everyone!!

Small buck in the orchard 2011

Turkeys on the farm fall 2010

August/September Preparation for a bad winter

I can’t believe it’s the end of July!  This year has flown by!!  It’s time to start aggressively storing food for the winter, gathering wood, and winterizing all the animal sheds and the house.  I’ll save the house for last since the next two months will probably turn out to be our hottest months.  The farm equipment should be finished for the year except for a couple tractors.  Hubby always cleans them up and checks everything out for worn parts and replacement parts.  I clean up the garden and yard equipment but still a little early for that.  The major thing now is the garden.  I will have more green beans to can this coming week and weekend, more squash to freeze, onions to store and more cabbage to do something with.  The tomatoes and peppers are near ready yet and the summer “duratio” did away with most of the fruit.  Luckily I stored lots last year.

Hubby worked on filling the wood house again today and the split stack is out of the rain.  We still have a large load to split and more down from the storm to cut & split for the following winter.

All of the hay is stacked and ready for winter and hubby is in the process of cleaning up the hay equipment.  The roofs have been taken care of and I have to put new interior tar paper in the chicken house.  All of the major fence repairs have been made and the pastures are being sheared now.

Hay making time

It’s June, the weather is hot and the grass is turning brown on the tips.  It’s time to make hay!!  Early summer is a very busy time for all farmers because they’re preparing for the winter ahead and keeping the livestock fed.  As of last week, my husband and daughter had mowed down, raked up and baled 125+ round bales of hay.  That total is about one third of what we will need to make it through a fairly bad winter.  We have about eighty 4×5 foot bales left over from last year because we had a very warm and short winter season and we have about that many left over from the year before that.

This is one of the toughest jobs they have on the farm because you deal with rain, heavy dew, riding on equipment that doesn’t have a really smooth comfort zone and of course, that bearing down sun.  The heat so far this year has ranged from low to mid 70’s early in the day to high 90’s in late afternoon.  It’s very important to stay hydrated and protect your skin.  NOW, I must tell you the two stubborn people working on our farm think that sunscreen attracts hay seed and hay dust and therefore rarely if ever wear sunscreen.  They think the canopy on the tractors will protect them.  Needless to say, they are both quite brown-skinned now and I’m envious but won’t trade places with them.  Me and the sun do NOT get along.  I do however appreciate the hard work they put in and love the time they get to spend together even though they’re working.

The cattle will be very pleased with this crop during the winter months when they can’t find a green spot on the ground and their tummy’s are growling and their babies are growing inside them.

I’ve included a few pictures of the work at hand.  Please take heed and watch out for our farmers on the road.  They are putting food in our mouths even though they’re making the hay for the livestock!!