Home Projects

Now that the massive winter rain has disappeared and we are left with sweltering heat, I have been working on my honey to do list. Now this list isn’t for R, mostly it is for me to remember the projects that I am working on. I love our home, mostly because of where it is at and because I can walk out to see my horse any time I want. Problem is, it is small and has less storage space than I am used too. My old house had a walk in closet, bigger closets in each room, a pantry and nice size laundry room. Technically they are both three bedrooms and two bathrooms but there was a bit of a downgrade in storage space. So I am working on some space saving stuff to make it feel less cluttered right now. So I have an ever growing project list.

Master bedroom/bathroom:

Closets revamping

Take sliding doors off closet and add gauzy curtain instead. Something similar to this:

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Currently we have awful sliding doors that don’t work half of the time and they make it so half of the middle part of the closet isn’t usable without shoving yourself into the closet. So I stumbled upon this idea and love the look of it. Currently I have a blue floral pattern on our bed so I am hoping to find really flowy blue curtains or white gauzy curtains. I am hoping this will also clear up some room to shove the dresser into the closet and clear up some room in our bedroom.

Master bathroom Jacuzzi tub into a shower too:

Our shower is on the opposite end of our house where the other two bedrooms are. In our bathroom is a nice Jacuzzi tub that I love but when there are guests or when R’s kid is here, it would be nice to not have to tromp all the way into the other bathroom for a shower. So I am working on coming up with an idea to hang a nice shower curtain and add a handheld shower head for when guests are at our home and we don’t want to go all the way across the house to get a shower in.

Windows:

I need to add some black out curtains to our bedroom windows. The morning sun comes in our window and my eyes pop open the minute it does. We have those slat curtains currently and they do NOTHING. So I was thinking some nice black out curtains and they might also help for keeping the cool air in right now.

Kitchen Area:

I want to add a door between the laundry room and kitchen. Our laundry room is right off our kitchen and it currently has a doggy door for the dogs so it has become the doggy room. We have a baby gate we use to keep out the dogs from the rest of the house during the day. I have noticed that during this heat wave we have been struggling to cool down the living room and I think it is because of the open doggy door/laundry room area. So my hope is to add a door. Now R is suggesting a vinyl accordion door but I am cringing hard core at that so I am thinking a nice sliding barn door might be doable or a bi-fold door. Something like one of these:

Frameport 24 in. x 80 in. Louver/Panel Pine White Interior Closet Bi-fold Door42 in. x 84 in. Z-Bar Knotty Alder Interior Barn Door Slab with Sliding Door Hardware Kit36 in. x 84 in. Melrose Solid Core Primed Composite Interior Barn Door Slab with Sliding Door Hardware Kit

Kids room:

We just won more visitation with R’s son at our home on a monthly basis, so we are working on his bedroom finally. It has been just sitting empty until we went to court. We picked up a nice captain’s bed with storage and a cute little I guess you could call it entertainment storage unit with lots of drawers. It needs a good coat of paint and then I will be gluing down Lego boards and filling one of the drawers with Lego’s. I will also add hooks for him to hang jackets. I am making his closet area into a reading nook with pillows, a bean bag chair, a string of lights and some curtains. I have been debating adding one of those cute kid tents. I have a chest in there that needs a paint job and then it will become a toy chest or blanket storage chest for him. Lots of fun ideas are swirling around in our heads.

Guest room:

Because I don’t want R’s kid to feel his room is also a guest room I am making my office into a guest room. To be honest, I rarely go in there to do paperwork. I love the office, it has lots of light and a view of the horse pasture out front but I just don’t like sitting at a desk after spending all day at a desk so I tend to use my computer in the bedroom or on the couch. So my idea is to take my craft cubbies and filing cabinet and place them into the closet nook. Cover that closet with a curtain as well. Take my homemade desk that R made for me and is very special to me and move that outside where we can use it as a nice place to eat on warm evenings. That way I can fit our queen bed in there and guests will have a nice space to sleep in.

Outdoors:

We currently have a dead tree in our yard. The old tenants never watered the grass and the tree died. Breaks my heart because it would have provided added shade to our yard. So our landlords have discussed taking it down and making it into a cute bird bath for the yard or bird feeding area. Great idea but I am also going to discuss with them adding a few extra trees around our bedroom window area. We desperately need shade by one of our windows that gets a lot of hot sunlight and a nice tree would be perfect.

I have two more apple crates hanging around the house. One I already converted into a planter with lavender and strawberries. I also made one into a temporary home for the chicks while they were too young to go into the coop yet. So that one will be converted to a planter as well. But the littlest one we have is shallow and I have this great idea to make it into my garden supplies holder. Currently I am taking over R’s shed with my gardening tools, seeds, planters, etc. So I am going to take one of the crates, paint it green, add in this adorable medicine cabinet I found to hold seed packets and make it a little gardening supplies area right by the shed. This clears up space for his tools and projects while making something cute and decorative for the yard.

I have lots of constant ideas popping into my head and we have pallets to experiment with. So I am working on ideas to build with those as well. So here is to a summer of getting our smallish house a little more functional plus I really love home projects! They make me very happy!!

What are you working on??

 

Crock Pot Chuck Roast

Was cleaning the coop the other day and spotted the artichoke plant in full bloom. With how busy it has been we all forgot about the artichoke plant and they got to bloom. I have to tell you, artichoke plants in bloom are beautiful! I don’t know why people don’t make bouquets out of them because they are truly unique.

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Also happening around the ranch, June Cash (the oldest hen) has taught Mrs. Leghorn (one of the teenage hens) how to perch on the fence. Sigh. I really need to get around to clipping all of their wings the little troublemakers.

Found a treat that the chickens love on hot days, watermelon and even the ducks join in when I throw it out there. It is literally gone in a few minutes. Even had the horses try some, the gelding is all for it but my mare was not interested in the slightest.

I am working on getting the weeds down in the garden. They over ran when we all got busy and though the veggies are still coming up, they are fighting their way through weeds. So each evening I work on a bit at a time. It is a slow process but it is making a little bit of headway. Got the beets cleared, the snap peas, the tomatoes, the carrots and spinach. Despite this though the squash is already huge and blooming. My tomatoes in planters in the yard are super happy and I am popping cherry tomatoes in my mouth as I walk around most evenings. The lettuce bucket is out of control, I probably should pick some soon for a big summer salad. I just love having all these fresh fruits/veggies coming up!

It has been days full of crazy projects at work and evenings full of getting things done around the ranch while trying not to sweat my booty off.

We are in the middle of an 8 day heat wave of over 100 degree days. I am not ready for this kind of summer yet. I have frozen a ton of jugs of water in hopes that the chickens will stand near them when they get too hot. I am also wetting down their soil and checking their water. I am hoping to convince R to help me install a mister system for out there and on our porch as well for the hotter days. The problem with our heat spells is the evenings don’t cool down all that much so there isn’t much relief from the constant baking heat and even with an ac running full blast it can’t compete with the relentless 108 degree days.

On hot days nothing makes me happier than letting the slow cooker do the work instead of having my oven blast out more heat. So I have been all for the crock pot love! Experimented with a chuck roast and it came out delicious. Just simmered away on low in the crock pot the entire day and was ready to eat by the time I got home! I don’t like to put vegetables in my crock pot with my roasts because I find it makes them soggy so I just threw in some brussel sprouts in the oven quickly.

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As a side note I finally bought real adult knives for the kitchen. You know, the one’s that come with lifetime guarantees and free sharpening for life. I can’t believe how much fun I am having cutting up vegetables and meat. Oh my gosh I now know what I have been missing out on all these years! I threw those cheap Wal-Mart knifes right into the camping box and walked away. Boo ya!

So here we go…

Chuck Roast in the Crock Pot

Ingredients:

  • 2lb chuck roast
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Salt (I use pink Himalayan)
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup of water
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. Make small slits in your roast randomly on the front and back, slide garlic cloves into those slits. Rub your chuck roast with olive oil making sure it all gets coated. Seasoning it generously with salt, lemon pepper and Italian seasoning. Rub the seasoning in.
  2. Place seasoned roast into crock pot with one cup of water on low for 8 hours or more or high for roughly half of the time.

Viola! Done! Pretty simple right??

For the brussel sprouts just cut them in half removing the outer leaves and place them into a bowl. Add in some balsamic vinegar, salt, lemon pepper and olive oil. Tossed it all around and it then bake it at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes in the oven. Came out as the perfect side dish!

Dinner is served!

Adventures and Heartache

I am struggling to feel normal again after this last weekend. Some parts of the weekend were so fun that I am still smiling over them and some parts of the weekend were so horrible that I am still cringing. I have been struggling to get back into my routine and instead have been crawling home to immediately put on my pajamas. Not to mention R brought home a cough with us so he has been struggling too. I have been avoiding him like the plague. For a man who is normally never sick it is always disturbing to see him not feel well. Poor guy!

But before I go into the weekends adventures, lets talk work outs

I nailed every single one of my lunch time workouts last week. All five days…

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I struggled with cardio last week for some reason. I felt like my breathing was off and I sweated a little harder than normal. It was not fun. But I pushed myself to do my minimum of 10 minutes. Like I have said before, I tell myself to do at least 10 minutes and if I need to stop after that I can. Most days I pushed till 15 minutes and one day I pushed till 20 minutes. So I got the cardio in but I wasn’t happy about it. For the most part I ate at home and stuck to my healthy eating choices as well. The results were 3 pounds lost! It was nice to step on the scale and actually see a loss again. I knew I wanted to get in exercise all last week because I had a feeling this weekend would throw off my work outs a bit and I was right.

We had plans to go to southern California for our holiday weekend. R had mediation for a modification in the custody of his son and we normally spend holiday weekends visiting his son anyways because it is an extra day off of work. We had decided to leave Sunday and give ourselves Saturday at home to get stuff done. But R had another surprise up his sleeve instead. Instead of taking Saturday to be at home, he got me packed early, got the pet sitter for an extra day and drove me over the Nevada state line to a very amazing surprise.

VEGAS!

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Because I didn’t have a lot of warning I wasn’t able to do a lot of planning plus we were only there for a night, but I still had the most amazing time. He found a beautiful room with a view of the strip right next door to Paris Las Vegas because I am obsessed with the Eiffel Tower and going to Paris one day.

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He took me to the most amazing dinner right in the Eiffel tower where we watched the Bellagio Fountains go off every 15 minutes or so. We walked the strip and got the most amazing daiquiris. I definitely got my steps in that evening. So many stairs and walking. We still didn’t cover all of the strip either. We went to bed at 3 a.m. and of course woke up at 9 a.m. to start getting packed up to go. 3 a.m. bed times are for young people damn it, not people in their 30’s.

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It was truly the most amazing experience. There were so many people there dressed up to their best and some were barely dressed at all. There was just so much to see and do. I have already started my list for the next visit.

The next day we were on limited time because we needed to get to Southern California but we made one last stop at the Hoover Dam before we went. Well we didn’t stop but we drove over it and that was pretty amazing. Next time I am dying to go inside and do a tour. The whole entire time we drove over the dam R just kept yelling about Transformers. Such a goof!

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It was truly a wonderful experience! One I wish we could have taken my step son on but maybe next time.

By the time we arrived in Southern California we were pooped. We went to bed early and woke up ready to hang out with the kiddo. I had a pretty bad feeling about this trip because of how his ex had started acting since we filed the modification paperwork. She was never easy to get along with but she has been slowly getting really bad over the last month or so. R’s son has been really upset about not being able to get more contact with his father since she has been not answering her phone during their scheduled video chats and basically just treating R like an enemy instead of like a co-parent. Anyways, R’s son has been starting to throw these fits that we have never witnessed firsthand because he has always been so good with us. His son had a cough, had been run pretty hard that weekend by his mom and was pretty exhausted. So it was inevitable that he would have a huge tantrum.

I know that his mother deals with them differently but since she refuses to discuss them with us like we have asked her too now for WEEKS, we had to deal with it in the best way we know how. I don’t believe in spanking and R is coming around. So he let me handle it and I did what worked for me when I was a kid, I let him calm down. I ignored him flat out. I let him scream and be belligerent but I refused to acknowledge any of it. I calmly just told him that I would listen when he calmed down but I will not listen when he is yelling or screaming. It worked, I was a bit shocked too, but he calmed down when he realized he wasn’t going to get my attention by doing it. He came out, R held him while he finished quieting down and then we all cuddled and hung out in our pajamas watching movies. Later on we discussed it, we talked about alternative ways to express himself, we talked about why he felt the need to scream, we talked about it all and really he admitted that he was tired and didn’t feel good. It left R and I shaken though. It was our first hard parenting moment together. We did joke around afterwards though because when R’s son was yelling at us he kept lumping me into things like, you guys hate me, you guys wish I was never born, you guys don’t let me do what I want. I felt like a real parent right there at that moment! Anyways, after he got some down time he was much better and the rest of the visit had no issues at all.

I was proud of R and myself for handling that tough moment with grace and calmness.

Mediation was the next day and we took the kiddo to school. I can’t tell you the bright smile on this kids face when he was walking in with his dad. He really loves being with his father so darn much. Mediation on the other hand was a circus. His ex made it seem like R was this absentee father even though he has been busting his ass to be in his sons life for years now with her blocking him every time he tries. It broke my heart to see R walk out of there just confused on why she continues to act this way. Her own son is begging to spend more time with his father. This is a child who loves his dad and a dad who really loves his son. I am really just ready for the drama she creates to be over. It is all all game to her. I thought my almost two year divorce was hard, it was a walk in the park compared to this custody hearing. The worst is she has yet again cut all phone contact even though she agreed in mediation to 4 days a week at 6:30 p.m. R has been calling and calling, she has been ignoring. She agreed to the mediator to do co-parenting courses and to communicate from now on through a court email program, R signed up for both, she has yet to do either. I can’t imagine how R is feeling dealing with her but I know that I am just ready for this entire mess to be over with. I can’t imagine after the judge looks at all our proof of her lying, manipulating and emotional harmful behavior saying that R can’t have more time with his son. But family law is so weird I just am hoping for the best!

So as you can see, there was some great parts of this weekend but there was some really emotionally tough moments too. I haven’t worked out this week. I have barely been surviving this week. I know I will go right back to working out after I get a weekend to get back into the swing of things but for now I am just trying to survive the rest of today. Last night I put myself into bed super early and I felt decent this morning but still not completely my old self again. But I know eventually I will snap out of it and start up my routine of taking care of animals, riding horses and laughing at my goofy R!

So, how was your holiday weekend?

Shrimp and Sausage Bake

We all know I am about convenience when it comes to week day dinners. Let’s be honest, if it isn’t easy and simple, I don’t even want to deal with it during the week. On the weekends, when I don’t have plans, I am all for complicated dinners but not during the week.

Last night R was out of town for work and I was on my own. Whenever R is going to be out of town for work I make sure to rush home from work and start on all the chores right away. I run around watering the plants, turning on the sprinkler to water the roses, let the chickens/chicks out of their coop for some bug hunting, check for eggs, check to make sure all of the animals are healthy, fill up everyone’s water (and there is a lot of water containers to fill and change out), make sure everyone is stocked up on food and last night was garbage night so all the garbage needed to go out then the garbage can needed to be walked down our long drive way. I also like to go check on the big garden to make sure the automatic watering system is working and I check on Sophie to see if she needs bug spray or anything. It is definitely easier with R around in the evenings that’s for sure.

R offered to pay for a pizza for me and I could pick it up, I think he feels bad with how much I have to do while he is away. But I have actually been keeping on track with my workouts and I don’t really want to eat crappy food that is just going to make me feel horrible. Plus we have some plans this weekend and I am pretty sure I will be indulging a bit. I would much rather save my calories. So eating at home was what I decided and boy was I glad I decided that!

I was staring at the contents of my fridge and realized there were some veggies that needed to be cooked. Specifically green beans and corn. So I got a little creative and came up with a one pan throw in the oven mixture of what I had and it turned out amazing. The smell of butter wafted through the house and made my mouth water. The taste was even better once it was done. I can’t tell you how good this recipe was and it was simple. Didn’t take much to prep and throw in the oven for 25 minutes. You have to try this recipe! It was like a summertime shrimp and sausage boil but without boiling (well the corn got boiled for a few minutes but nothing else).

On a side note, R and I just purchased our first ever adult knife set. The kind that comes with free sharpening and a lifetime guarantee because I finally reached my boiling point with dull knives. They have just shipped so last night while I was cutting corn with our pathetic knives I was losing my patience so I just started snapping them in half with my hands. It worked! So note to self, if you have dull knives like me, snap the corn in half with your hands.

Shrimp and Sausage Bake

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Kielbasa Sausage (the kind the comes in the U-shape package)
  • 1-2 cups of Shrimp (I got cooked, deveined, frozen shrimp because I am classy)
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2-3 cups of string beans (I didn’t snap the ends off because I am a rebel)
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Salt (I use pink Himalayan salt)
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • Non stick spray (I use butter flavor)

Directions:

  1. Start preheating your oven to 400 degrees and start a pot of water boiling for the corn.
  2. Let the corn boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Place your 1/2 stick of butter into a small pan, add in your garlic cloves (I use my garlic press), some seasoning and squeeze half of your lemon into the butter mixture. Let melt on low heat.
  4. Spray a baking sheet with non stick spray. Start cutting up your sausage, throw it on the baking sheet with the green beans and shrimp. Make it all as spread out as you can.
  5. Squeeze the other half of your lemon on to the green beans, shrimp and sausage.
  6. Add the boiled corn by breaking it into smaller pieces (or cutting it if you have sharper knives). Season everything with some more lemon pepper and salt.
  7. Pour the melted butter garlic mixture over the top of everything. Toss it all together. Just coat as much of everything as you can.
  8. Place it in the oven. Set your timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes toss it all one last time and set the timer again for another 5-10 minutes. Depending on how well you like your sausage and everything cooked.

The smell that comes out of your oven is drool worthy and so is the food! I made extra for lunch today as well.

After that I treated myself to a luxurious bath. I had picked up a bath bomb and new strawberry soap, handmade, from a craft fair I went too and I was dying to try it out.

My skin felt so good after that lovely bath bomb and I got 30 minutes to myself just reading my book in luxury with a face mask on. Now that is how you treat yourself on a Thursday evening after working all week, going to the gym all week, busting your ass at taking care of household stuff and cooking an amazing dinner!!

Happy Friday!!

Me Time

I am physically active person. I rarely sit down for long periods of time unless I am working. I have chickens to run after, horses to ride and a list of chores that never seems to get shorter. But I also have a nasty craving of all the carbs and I have a health condition that prefers it when I work out daily. Not to mention my bratty S health app was bugging the heck out of me. Daily it would tell me that I had a goal of being active 30 minutes out of the day and it was not cool that it would tell me when I went a day without doing my 30 minutes. Not to mention my steps were desperately low because I sit at a desk during the week. Then that weekly summary would come in on Sunday and make me really depressed. So eventually the app got to me and I started working on ways to get a work out in.

If exercise is not convenient, then I will make every excuse under the sun not to do it. I am that type of person. I know I am this type of person. So I spent weeks trying to find a solution. I get up at 5 am and that is early enough, so I don’t want to work out in the morning. I am tired usually by the end of the day and I have an hour long commute home, not to mention a ton of animals to care for once I get home, so after work was a bust. That was when it suddenly hit me, use the gym at my work and work out on my lunch break. I am not the biggest fan of lunch anyways and prefer to eat closer to 3 pm than 12 pm. So two weeks ago I started bringing my work out clothes to work and walked into the work out room at my work. Which I was shocked to discover had great views, good equipment and not a ton of people waiting on machines.

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At first I was intimidated, here I am, sweating in front of a bunch of people I work in the same building with and even a few of my coworkers. But then I realized everyone else is focused on their work out and I should focus on mine. I have to tell you, I am really enjoying it now. It gets me away from my desk, discourages eating out on my lunch and it makes me feel better. I work a high stress job, so getting to plug in some headphones and sweat a little makes me feel a ton better on a stressful day.

Here is my standard workout these days, I have never been one who likes spending hours at a gym so I love that I can do short and sweet for my hour long lunch. I get cardio out of the way first because I hate it. I have this mind trick I play with myself where I tell myself to go 10 minutes and then I can stop. After 10 minutes I tell myself another minute, then another and now I have built myself up to 16 minutes of cardio. I still hate it but it helps me to know I can get off the machine without guilt after 10 minutes if I am really not feeling cardio on a certain day. I usually do the elliptical or step machine because well who doesn’t want a firm booty?! After cardio gets my heart pumping and usually gets me sweating, I move on to the weight machines. There aren’t a ton but there are enough for me. I usually just alternate, legs one day, arms with abs the next. There is also a little area to do stretches or a few body weight exercises if I want and a small free weight section that I haven’t used yet but have been eye balling.

I have started referring to it as my “me time.” So far I am on day 9 at the gym and doing really good at sticking with being active. I was so active last week that my weekly S Health app reporting made me very happy.

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Then on the weekends I usually have plans that involve some sort of riding horses or walking or swimming or doing things that get me out of the house and moving. I have been riding Sophie a lot since the weather has been so nice and it turns out my app considers that a workout. Which it is to be honest. Plus working out helps with my horse riding, the more strength I have, the better I ride, mount and dismount. Trust me, you need a lot of strength to ride a horse. A lot more than you think you do.

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The nice part is when I started working out, I started making better choices in general. It helps that the fruit right now is amazing and there is a fruit stand on every corner.

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But because I don’t want to waste my workouts I tend to make better choices. Plus R and I have this side joke whenever we go to eat bad food that the horses are screaming at us to please put down the crap food and pick up a freaking vegetable. Cracks us up and reminds us to make better choices. Riding horses is important to me and I don’t want my weight to hinder my ability to ride my girl. Especially since she is learning so damn much and becoming an amazing horse to ride.

I feel better. I can already see slight changes in my body. I can feel that 10 minutes of cardio no longer makes me want to die. I feel less stressed. I am more active. My anxiety has gone down. My PCOS symptoms are easing up a bit. I am able to mount my horse with a little more ease. My body isn’t so sore from sitting all day anymore. It all is a chain effect really and I like that I don’t fuss about it because I don’t mind using my hour long lunch break for my working out. How about that for motivation!

The only thing I am not doing is stepping on the scale. I tend to get obsessive about every damn pound I lose or gain and that doesn’t help my motivation. Often it caused the opposite and made me want to stop working out. So right now I am just focused on building healthier choices, slowly getting rid of junk and working out regularly again. I don’t need a number on the scale ruling my world right now and would rather just gauge it by how I am feeling. Which at the moment is pretty darn good!

So, how do you squeeze in your “me time?”

The Things That Crow

This has been a tough week. There doesn’t seem to be enough daylight to get everything done after work because traffic is downright horrible. I have been almost late to work all week and definitely later home than normal. Between that and the weird weather, hot one week and now cold again, I am just a little off and running behind.

Remember how I told you that we ended up with four roosters out of the six chicks we originally got? Well we now only have one. One silkie rooster named Jacob. He is quiet and non aggressive. Lily the frizzle was starting to attack us humans. Ophelia wouldn’t stop humping everything in sight, including poor Jacob one day. Then there was Scotch who was a very mean rooster indeed and attacked the babies harshly. They all had to go because if I heard mass crowing one more morning at 5 a.m. or had to kick a frizzle across the yard as he snuck up on me, something bad was going to happen. So now gentle Jacob and his two ladies are what is left of the big chickens.

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I have started letting these three wander the duck run during the day. The duck run is a strip of area that runs the span of our house. When they put our house in they left a gap between the property fence and our high five foot fence that surrounds our yard. That gap is big enough to squeeze the coop into and also to create a nice grassy run for the ducks. So each morning R or I let them out to hang with the ducks and each evening they come into the yard for a bit before going back into their coop.

Well, this morning June Cash decided to pull another sneaky move. June is the chicken who likes to pop in the doggy door suddenly while I switch over laundry (doggy door is in laundry room). She has a bit of a sense of humor when it comes to keeping an eye on me and I will often find her little head popping up or through things just so she can watch me.

I couldn’t stop laughing this morning while I was trying to prep my coffee. Damn bird. She will probably need her wings clipped so she doesn’t pull any escape artist moves. Lucky for me, the silkies don’t fly. Unlucky for me, the new babies do.

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The new babies are loving their outside box. We let them graze with the big chickens in the evening in hopes that they will soon be able to get integrated in with the big chickens. They are still too small to defend themselves properly.

The big chickens are curious, Jacob decided to check them out and of course did some pecking. He wasn’t hurting them, he was establishing the pecking order. I stood close and made sure he minded his manners. All of a sudden the ducks appeared and chased off all the big chickens. The are the school yard bullies. The chickens cower when they approach. I was a bit worried about the babies but then I noticed that the female duck kept an eye on them, kept them all together and was chasing the big chickens away from them. Momma duck is wondering why her babies don’t follow her like good ducklings. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that those weren’t her babies. Silly ducks!

Mornings are a lot quieter with only one rooster making small noises. I really hope he doesn’t find his voice or become aggressive.

On Tuesday I called R on my way to work because he had a random day off and I had driven right by the coolest white cabinet looking thing with a free sign. He is such a good fiance and went to grab it for me on his way home from picking up hay.

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I really love it! I can’t wait to get my hands on it to start cleaning it, fixing it and painting it. Then I have to figure out where to put it. I love new DIY projects. They make me very happy! Especially free ones.

Who else is ready for this week to end? It has been a very long one!

Perfect Weekend

Who else has zero motivation for work on Monday’s? Especially after a really perfect weekend. R was home the entire weekend, we had a couple fun plans with some friends and we got lots of productive things done at home. It was sunny. It was beautiful. It was a really great weekend.

I love weekends spent at the ranch because sometimes I don’t feel we get enough time at home to work on our projects. One of the most important projects to me was the baby brooder box (R laughs every time I say that). I mentioned before I have new babies to replace the roosters in my flock (since I ended up with only two hens out of six chickens).

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My dilemma was this, the baby chicks were in my bathtub attached to my bedroom. One of the chicks is a leghorn who can fly pretty well (the big one in the middle). She is older than the other chicks and has become sort of mother hen to them. The problem is when they get too rowdy in the bath tub she sort of looses it (like any typical mother of too many unruly chicks) and goes up on the bathtub sill. There she sits and poops. Every day I would clean it just to have her do it again by the next day. My bathroom was disgusting on a daily basis and I was DONE! But the roosters that I am still trying to rehome (only three left since a very mean rooster when to the freezer camp aka lost his neck) are not very nice to the baby chicks and they aren’t old enough to defend themselves yet. The silkie roosters don’t pay any mind to the babies but the sexlink rooster is an ass. I had them all outside together on Saturday and had to chase off the big sexlink from pecking them. Anyways, it is warm enough right now for them because it is only dropping to 56 degrees at night and is hitting 80 something during the day. So they needed to go outside but in their own area where they couldn’t be picked on by the big chickens.

The ducks weren’t using their home we made for them out of a big apple crate R got me. So we stole that from them and it became the perfect baby brooder box for outside. We just made a solid roof over half of it for protection, added chicken wire to the other half for fresh air (plus we have a removable lid to cover the chicken wire at night) and placed it in the shade under a big tree right outside our back door.

It ended up being perfect, plenty of room and plenty of fresh air for them while also being well protected.

Most of my evenings look like this anyways…

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So I am able to check on them daily to make sure they are good when I let everyone else into the yard for the evening. When I get home everyone starts making noise at me, so I open the back gate and let them all in the yard where they spend the evening hours catching all the bugs. The chickens follow me right to the yard the minute I open their coop. I am sad to rehome the roosters but they are starting to get to be a handful so they all need to go.

Back to this weekend. I made it to a tack sale where I was able to get some new gear for my Sophie girl.

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I finally got a new bit to try with Sophie. When I got her she was being ridden in a twister wire and she only knew direct reining (two hands where as neck reining is one handed is the simplest way to explain it). She leaned on her bit. She had a hard mouth. You would give her the cue to stop and she would walk right through it. To soften her mouth I started working with an O ring snaffle and eventually went to a D ring snaffle. Both worked at softening her mouth and I started pushing her into the bit when she would lean forward. Then I did lots of ground work on verbal cues since her other problem was whenever you put her in a round pen she would just start running in circles with no control. I taught her to walk slowly, I taught her to stop, trot, canter, switch directions and to focus on me. I even taught her to come in to the middle when asked. She can even now be ridden with just her halter and a lead rope.

Sophie doesn’t really know her leg cues. She was taught the bare basics (kind of) and sometimes doesn’t get what I am asking for when I ride with my legs. So I decided a good way to start working with her on leg cues was to teach her to neck rein instead of the direct reining. I tried it in a D ring snaffle and she wasn’t getting it. This meant I needed a bit with shanks. I did a lot of research and talked to some very knowledgeable horse people before I started this process. I tested out a few bits that a friend let me borrow as well. Then we started on neck reining. I am a big believer in not being heavy on the reins. Gentle hands make softer horses in my opinion.

R has been doing most of the neck reining training up until this point because I was struggling with some anxiety issues but on Saturday I rode her and she did amazing. It was great to see it all clicking into place for her. At the tack sale I got a pair of looped reins instead of the split leathers that R prefers. I was much more comfortable not fighting all the leather and I could ride very loosely with them. I don’t use a lot if any back pressure with the new bit, instead I allow my legs and the pressure from the reins on her neck to let her know what I am asking for. She did amazing. She has such a great brain on her. She responds so much better to neck reining than direct reining, she is starting to understand the leg cues and she even stops with only a little pressure. The best part was no leaning on the bit. When she wouldn’t get what I was asking I only had to slightly correct. I was so darn proud of her and it is great to see your hard work make a difference when you invest your time into a horse.

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R has also been riding another paint just like my Sophie that lives at the ranch. They are a great pair. They both love to run around the fields. He even took Sophie out for a nice run while I was helping set up the garden. It feels good for both of us to be back to riding after a very rainy winter that made the ground too sloppy to ride on.

Last but not least we started setting up the garden watering system this weekend. I can’t wait to get my sprouts into the ground.

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Now that the weather is consistently sunny and beautiful we are in full gardening mode. The watering system was finished yesterday for the most part and we should be able to start planting soon once we rototiller the rows. I am so excited! I already ate my first strawberry off one of my plants and it was amazing. Tasted like sunshine and summer. Nothing beats freshly grown produce.

Between the walking for two hours at a craft fair, the gardening, riding horses, fixing fences for the horses and just general chores, I slept like a baby Sunday night. Knocked out the minute my head hit the pillow and stayed out till I had to get up for work. There is something really satisfying about a weekend full of fun but productive things. Just makes me feel good especially when I remember that at one time (3-4 years ago) I was deep in depression, wasn’t very active and didn’t leave the house much. Now I just feel happy most days and really blessed to be able to live the kind of life I only dreamed of before.

Happy Monday! I hope your weekend was fabulous and your Monday is short!!

 

Asparagus Amazingness

Weekends at home are the best! Finally got to spend some time catching up on the chores around the house.

Funny story, we let the ducks loose into the back pond to get some swim time. R and I each carried one all the way over to the back pond. The mares were so curious they followed us straight to the pond and then bolted when we put the ducks in. They wanted nothing to do with the quacking weird things. Anyways, we go to switch the horses around a bit, the mini was switching pastures with the stud, we get back to the front gate and who is waiting for us? The ducks! We let them in and they just gave us the side eye. They wanted nothing to do with the pond. They wanted to hang out with us and the chickens in the yard. Crazy ducks!

Growing season is here!

My second batch of seedlings started in eggshells are doing much better than the first batch did.

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With this batch I did things  a little differently. I started all the sprouts in one plastic egg carton than moved the bigger sprouts (summer squash and blue lima beans) to another plastic egg carton where they could have the lid open (because they need the room) and kept the beets, spinach and carrots in the original plastic egg carton with the lid closed because they still need the moisture/heat. So far it is working!

I still haven’t been able to get any sweet peppers to make an appearance but I am pretty excited about the summer squash finally growing. The sweet pea sprouts are all over the place on the porch. The spinach is doing great. The beets are growing like crazy. I have carrot sprouts. Blue lima bean sprouts. There are baby strawberry’s. The tomatoes are blooming. I still have seeds I will place in the actual ground too. Today I will be moving them to bigger planters outside and then they should be ready for the ground soon after that.

This last weekend the chickens ate my lettuce. I should have known it was too quiet. They discovered that there is an entire yard to explore. I let them and the ducks free range on the weekends I am home in our fenced in yard. There are lots of little grass buggies for them to eat and they like the out time. Anyways, I went to water my lettuce bin that was getting full, when I noticed that suddenly there was a lot of lettuce missing. Yep, guilty chickens. Grr! Now I know to net the lettuce.

I learned how to drive the tractor and tilled the garden area this last weekend.

We will do one more pass with the tractor this week now that the soil has dried a bit, then do some passes with the smaller hand tiller to make actual rows and put down a plastic tarp to prevent weeds growing through. Then it should be planting time! Can’t wait to get my baby’s into the ground.

I also experimented with some asparagus I got off a road side stand. Farm fresh asparagus makes me happy but I am always looking for amazing ways to cook it. I don’t like it too soft and I don’t like it without a little flavor. So I experimented and I have to tell you, even R ate up a ton of it. It was that good! You have to try it!

Baked Asparagus

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Ingredients:

  • A bundle of asparagus – trimmed
  • 2-3 fresh garlic cloves crushed
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • Lemon pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Trim your asparagus. Spread out on cooking sheet. Drizzle olive oil all over the asparagus. Add in some salt (per taste), fresh crushed garlic (again per taste) and lemon pepper (again per taste). Mix it all together with your hands, kind of rolling the asparagus in the mixture to coat it as much as possible. You might need to re-sprinkle the garlic over the top or add an extra clove of crushed garlic once it is all mixed in.
  3. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Easy and was so good. Was the perfect amount of crunchy and soft. Had great flavor. Was easy to make. I think I found my new go to asparagus recipe!

Try it and let me know your feedback!!

 

Friday’s Are For Updates

I am so very glad it is Friday! We spent Easter and the weekend before that out of town with R’s son. I enjoy hanging out with that little dude so very much but it can be exhausting to travel to him constantly. It means living out of our car and a hotel room. Eating bad road food. It also throws the whole next week off at work. I am so ready for a few weekends spent at home!!

I have felt out of sorts for weeks now. Between traveling for far too many weekends in a row, work being crazy busy and all the changes R and I are working on in our life, there is sometimes far too much going on to process everything and exhaustion kicks in. When exhaustion kicks in my anxiety crawls up. But I am lucky, when I am at my darkest I have some of the best people pulling me back up. I have a really great group of people in my life that are always checking in on me, pulling me out of my funks and reminding me what love is. I am also lucky because R is also a solid person who keeps me grounded on my toughest anxiety filled days. I remind myself of these things when I start feeling overwhelmed.

On the ranch front.. I have four roosters. *sigh* Out of the six chickens (three silkies and three sex-links), it has become very obvious that four of them are roosters. It became even clearer when one morning there was an odd noise coming from the coop and Arya kept barking at it. Now both silkies have two beautiful crows but sadly, I do not want roosters. So I am trying to find a new home for them and in the mean time, there are baby’s in my bathtub again.

One leghorn (that flies), three unknowns and two bantams are now living in my tub while they get bigger and I work on figuring out my rooster problem. Preferably before mating begins because I am just not down for that. The sad part was after the ducks got booted from my tub, I was so excited to have my big tub back. I scrubbed the entire bathroom. I scrubbed the entire bathtub. I had bath salts on my list of things to buy. But it feels like this spring is just full of baby’s in my tub. I guess there are worst thing my tub could be full of.

The ducks…

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The ducks are huge. There is one male and one female. They got a little adventure to the big pond the other day BUT one of my ducks is a female, the resident two ducks are males, so needless to say she might not be able to go out to the big pond or we might start letting her have field trips to the small back pond. I don’t really want her being mated that much by three darn ducks. Ducks are brutal by the way when they mate. Brutal.

Penny was sold (R’s older mustang) to a lovely family that has three other mustangs. It was a little bittersweet because she was our first horse together. But she needed more consistent work and R really wanted a different horse that wasn’t so stubborn. Penny was difficult to say the least. She was older, she was set in her ways and her stubbornness could outdo anyone’s good mood. R worked hard with her and so did I. We both put a ton of time and effort into her but she had became extremely buddy sour with my horse. So when separated, she became hostile. Every ride was an argument and we constantly had to remind her of what we just taught her. Now, we had made some positive changes with her, she truly did try her best for us but she needed to be worked every single day and R’s schedule didn’t always cooperate with that. So Sophie is our only horse right now. But R has been riding a beautiful paint that looks just like the male version of my Sophie girl but much better trained. He is one of the horses that lives on the ranch that the owner doesn’t have a lot of time for, so R is riding him and so far they are a great little pair. Actually R has been riding both Sophie and the other horse because I haven’t been able to get on my Sophie girl much and he has been off work for this week. He likes to send me pics like this while I am stuck at work…

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Damn bastard! I love him but these kind of pictures make me want to tell my boss that I am leaving and go home to ride my horse.

My seedlings are doing great! They have sprouted for the most part. I am still waiting on a few seedlings but I have lots of spinach, sweet peas, blue lima beans, beets and carrots sprouting up. My strawberry plant has big strawberries. My lettuce is growing like crazy. The tomato plants are getting huge. Even the lavender is happy. Fingers crossed it gets enough to supply me for the wedding. I love having a garden. It makes my just so happy to have chickens running around my yard, ducks quacking away, seedlings growing all over my porch and a horse to go out to work with whenever I am home. Traveling for too many weekends in a row is hard on me. I miss my home. Chores stack up. But last night I came home, watched R ride for a bit and then had a good dinner, I let the chickens out to graze in the yard, played with the dogs, watered everything and I could feel myself balancing out again. I am really looking forward to this weekend with sunshine predicted and lots of home time.

I finally took the plunge and got myself a pass to the gym in my work building. It is free (except for the small fee you pay for the pass card) and is really convenient. I kept racking my brain on where to squeeze in exercise. Don’t get me wrong, I am active, very active, all my animals keep me that way but I need actual exercise because it helps with stress relief and my anxiety. Mornings are out because I get up at 5 am to commute, evenings are out because once I get home I have a ton of chores to get through before I can even sit down to eat let alone exercise. So I decided my lunch break was the perfect time to work out. It gets me away from my desk. The work out area is only down a few floors. It isn’t busy. It has a good amount of weights and cardio machines. It also has showers. So it really is a win win for me and I can’t wait to bring my work out gear on Monday!!

My PCOS has been a bit wonky lately because of adding dairy back into my diet. I was ordering Chia drinks and they have dairy. My body is not a fan so I am working on taking it back out of my diet again. Sometimes I feel like I am constantly in a balancing act on finding what foods work and what foods don’t work. But I should have known better about dairy. Smoothies are my go to dinner lately. That might sound odd but I like them, I add in baby kale for greens, fresh fruit, coconut milk, Greek yogurt, flax seeds, and chia seeds. It fills me up and doesn’t make me feel bloated. Plus with my busy evenings it makes it so convenient to sip while watering or letting the chickens out or going to visit Sophie. I am still seriously considering taking meat out of my diet but I really don’t want to have to do that if I don’t need too. Damn PCOS!

So there is my Friday update!!! How has your month been? Are April showers bringing May flowers? How was your Easter?

 

 

How Does Your Garden Grow

One of the perks of moving into the place we are at now was the idea of a garden. Well that and having our horses on property. I had spent the last few years living in the city and growing container gardens. Tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos and herbs grow great in containers but I found myself fantasizing about the day when I could build boxes or get a place that had room for a real garden. One with lettuce, beets, pumpkins, squash and the list goes on.

I remember being a small child and following my Mom around the garden. Eating what was growing. As an adult I have this urge to grow what I eat. I would rather live off of what I can grow than buy vegetables that never seem to taste right from the grocery store. The farmers market is the best place to find reasonably priced vegetables that taste amazing but there aren’t a ton of those around here.

All winter long I have been pinning garden ideas on Pinterest while waiting for a weekend full of sunshine and warmer nights. Well last weekend rolled around and nothing but sunshine woke me up on Saturday. R was called into work, so I took full advantage of him being gone and started on my sunny weekend to do list.

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Starting with painting the coop steps.

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The coop itself is green and I have a touch up color to put on it that is similar but I decided to start on the bubblegum pink ramp that the chickens use to get in and out. I got so paint happy I painted the trim as well. The chickens thoroughly enjoyed some free grazing adventures while their coop was being painted.

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Especially since I let them have the entire day out of their coop. Arya stayed by my side and by the chickens side. I was worried. She is a herder. She isn’t always gentle. But she gently herds these guys and when I tell her to lay off she lays down and watches them. When the chickens heard a bird of prey they immediately ran to me and Arya. Choosing to hide behind us. Arya has become my chicken dog.

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June Cash was roosting on the back steps when I went to go switch over the laundry and when I turned around she had discovered the doggy door. Scared the crap out of me and then I bust up laughing from the side eye she gave me. If you have never owned chickens you can’t understand how humorous these buggers are. They love to get into trouble and just have the funniest mannerisms. The dogs busted the doggy door cover so now I have even more motivation to get a new one. Don’t want any chickens sneaking into the house now that she has figured out how to use it.

Next I worked on a few seed starting projects that I found on Pinterest. Because every great idea starts with..”I found this idea on Pinterest.”

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So here is the idea. You poke a hole in the bottom of a cracked eggshell…

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I wrote what each shell had in it. Filled it up part way with soil and placed a few seeds in each one. Except for the lima beans. Those eggshells only got one.

Then I took each seed filled eggshell and placed it back in the plastic egg carton. Once they were all done I watered them, gently, with a squirt bottle and closed the plastic egg carton with a little gap for air flow. So the idea behind this is that you are creating a little greenhouse with the plastic egg carton which will help the little seeds grow. Once the seeds are ready for the ground, you can put them in the ground by breaking up the eggshell a bit and it will provide much needed nutrients for the growing plant.

I also used some biodegradable seed starter cups too.

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Same concept. Grow the seeds (without any plastic this time) in these cups and when they are strong enough place it into the ground it will disintegrate. Gosh, I am so flipping excited. I can’t wait to see if these work and my seeds start making an appearance. I have so many good things, spinach, lettuce, beets, sweet peas, lima beans and carrots. That is on top of the things I am growing in the containers in the yard, the strawberry’s, lettuce variety, basil and 3 difference kinds of tomatoes. Keep your fingers crossed for a good haul this year. Maybe I won’t even need to buy vegetables. We can eat straight from the garden. I still want some squash though. I just need to start working on building some trellises.

Oddly enough planting seeds is really therapeutic. It was calming to just sit in the shed, planting and throwing meal worms out for the chickens. I turned my back for a second and they breeched the shed. Grabbing at the eggshells that fell around my feet. Now when they free range they are obsessed with the shed. I sent R the picture below and his only comment was, “no poop in my shed.”

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Sunday was also beautiful but it was dedicated to the horses. We decided that since the mud was drying up nicely we would let the horses run in the back 10 acres to stretch their legs. They loved it! I have an amazing video up on my Instagram of both of them running (Laughter_and_Carbs).

You could tell our old lady mustang Penny was in her element. She doesn’t like small spaces. She kept her head up and was exploring everywhere she could without getting too far from Sophie (my horse).

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When you see a horse in action, full on running, with no restrictions, you can see the raw power of them. It is something that still to this day takes my breath completely away. They are stunning when they run. Tails flowing behind them and their legs moving with such grace. This is why I love horses. I will always be in awe of them.

Penny has to still wear her anti-grazing muzzle, which is the black mask on her face. No worries, it doesn’t restrict her or hurt her. Just stops her from eating the green grass full of sugar.

R decided to hop on Sophie (my paint) for a little bareback riding in the field. He only had the halter with a lead rope tied as reigns. Let me tell you a little secret about Sophie, she pulled hard on the reigns when I first got her. She leaned on the bit. She walked through the bit. She tripped. She didn’t engage her rear end. She was nervous. Jumpy. But all winter long I have been working with her. We have been doing a LOT of much needed ground work. Building a relationship. I have worked with her on spooks, using things such as tarps, the bareback pad and the whip (no we did not whip her but she was scared of it none the less). I have spent hours teaching her verbal commands, teaching her to slow down, trot, move away from pressure, calm down, lower her head and listening to me. I have worked with her on stretches and my new thing is stand, which means she stands with patience while I tack her up or brush her or groom her or pet her all over her body. I have also worked with her on kneeling (we are almost there) and other silly tricks. It has gotten to the point where she chooses to be with me. Out in the 10 acres I could walk up to her anytime with a lead rope and she wouldn’t run or even think about running. I leaned on her. Stood with her. Talked to her. At one point R walked Penny to the water trough and Sophie chose to stay with me. Someone once said to me, “they have to want to be with you.” And it stuck with me.

So back to the bareback ride. I watched nervously as R hopped on her but it turns out it was for nothing. Sophie listened to him. She stayed calm and relaxed. She obeyed the commands. Penny was running around her and she focused on R. No spooks. No issues. No leaning. Nothing. No bit needed. She has become so good at the verbal commands and body commands I have been working with her, she didn’t need a bit. It helps that R is relaxed on her and has a good seat. I felt the pride just overfilling on me. Some days I had wondered if I was doing right by her and watching her on Sunday I felt that I was. I was making a difference with her. She is turning into such a good horse! I couldn’t be any prouder. I felt like a Mommy on the first day of school. Owning horses has definitely been an adventure!

At the end of the day we BBQ’ed up some good grub and took it easy on the porch. Enjoying the last little bit of sunshine.

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It was one of those first day of spring weekends that you can’t get enough of.

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So, how does your garden grow??