In the Groove…

I don’t know what has come over this house, but I am loving it. Things seem to be going smoothly and I am not sure why. As some of you may know we homeschool, which is awesome in most aspects. The one downside for us is it can be extremely tough to get the remodel projects done on our farmhouse. Well, I finally broke down and did something. Now I may be jumping the gun on how much I love it and it may be a bit too soon to be singing the praises of it. I signed A up for Time4Learning. I am a major stubborn donkey and obstinate butt and so is A [8 now, gah}. Well lets just say doing school took WAY longer than it should. Also there were a lot of loud voices and tears {on both parties}. I finally just gave up and told myself something had to change.

We have been using it for about a week now and so far there has not but a negative remark about doing school from her, or me. In fact there has even been a couple of days where she is turning the laptop on and doing it as soon as she is getting up…astounding! Our relationship has gotten much better as well.

Time4Learning costs $19.95 a month {you do get a 14 day trial period with 100% money back and each additional kid is $14.95} which okay when you think about it works out to be about the same as curriculum. They grade everything for you and even have scheduling capabilities. If your child is a little behind or ahead on certain subjects you can switch grades up. It is perfect for A since she is such a visual learner. {As we are a Christian family and I am a creationist I do keep an eye on what exactly is being taught.} I love it also because it does read most parts of it to her. She still has a hard time with reading and as soon as she gets comfortable with her and I doing school things together I will bring in a more intense reading time. For now though it has been awesome. What usually would take 4+ hours takes her maybe an hour. All because we fought.

I had an epiphany the other day, I couldn’t figure out why the last couple of days seemed to be longer and I was getting more things done. Then it dawned on me. I had not spent those days fighting her to get school done! {Although, part of it may be the book I am reading this month.} Even this weekend, she wanted to do some schoolwork. AMAZING!

If you want to sign up here is referral link, Time4Learning, letting y’all know that I will receive a free month or $25 for each person that signs up and stays on after the 14 day trial period.

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Minute Steak Dog Fry

We were low on “dog food” tonight and a 45 minute drive one way was not a pleasant thought. I knew I did not have the time to defrost a whole chicken so that meant either something with hamburger or round steak. Since the kids are not fans of round steaks they ended up on the menu.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice {3 cups after cooked}
  • 1 minute steak about, 1-2 lbs cut into about inch squares
  • 3 medium to large carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas
  • 1 medium apple, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp basil
  • Flour
  • Coconut oil and EVOO

I started by cooking the organic brown rice while my helpers took care of prepping the vegetables. The kids are getting to be such big helpers in the kitchen. After the veggies were prepped I placed the carrots in the steamer and cooked for about 10 minutes then added the peas.

While the carrots were steaming I mixed the apple and bell pepper in small bowl with the cumin, basil, and garlic powder.

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I started heating up my cast iron skillet with about 2 tablespoons coconut oil. While that was heating up I started I rolling the steak in flour, I used about a half a cup.

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Once the cast iron was ready I put the steak in and cooked until it was lightly browned. Then I added about 2 tablespoons of EVOO and the apple/bell pepper mix into the cast iron. Mixing it all together and then covering the pan. I stirred occasionally until the meat and apple/bell pepper were melding there flavors. I managed to have the steamed veggies, rice and meat all cooked at about the same time, win!

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My hubby decided to trade his dinner for this dish, and his only complaint was lack of some sweet banana peppers. They would give it just a little kick!

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The Lacy

You know you love something when you get a second one.

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Well apparently my neighbor loved her turquoise beast {Bathroom Sweet} so much that she requested another one…with a minor change.  She added roping, she loves roping. I would like to say it adds so much to Lacy, and yes she has a name.
This time around it has gone much smoother. We had less mishaps and I can see how my husbands skill has improved. We did end up with one piece that we did not feel we should use and we are keeping it as a pattern piece. I still am jealous that this piece goes to another home and cannot wait to have my own. Although maybe there will be another piece I totally adore and can not live without at that point. Throwing in some pictures of how we put this sweetheart together.

wp-1453477051720.jpgHere you can see the roping we added. The beast {as we call the original} does not have the roping detail.

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Here is Lacy all ready for paint.

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Lacy with her coats of primer, Dairy Belle by Valspar and Java Glaze by Rustoleum. Below is a picture of the color blend completely finished.

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I had to take a 2 day break because the cold spell and fumes were getting to me. I managed to put the final coat of varnish on with the kitchen windows cracked, after the cold spell went away. We are looking at converting our room in the barn to be a craft/finishing space. I am tired of fume headaches, dog hair {I am very diligent in removing the dog hair}, and keeping the dogs out of the kitchen while I finish pieces.

This makes a perfect buffet or console table. I had a chance to stage it in my living room…which only makes me want to have my own even more. Love, love, love this design!

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Cold & Fumes

Nothing destroys motivation like cold weather and fumes. Fumes and I believe the cold is tipping the scales in favor of snuggling in a warm blanket and drinking hot tea for the rest of the day. The end of my project is sooo close. The lacy beast is sitting in my kitchen with 1 coat of varnish and waiting for 2 more. I am excited to have it finished but I think some rethinking is in order.

I had planned {love that word, I could do a whole post of the word planned} on finishing one room at a time with no set deadline. Or at least focusing on one room at a time until completed. However here I sit on the couch by the woodstove, which is making the farmhouse somewhat warm, rethinking that. My head and stomach are bemoaning the work going on.

The cold is preventing me from working in the garage or even running back and forth from house to garage. It is a whopping 3º F with a real feel of -20ºF. At those temps a window cracked is a no. Even using low VOC I start to suffer without a open window. So here I sit drinking hot tea near my wood stove, thinking of ways to warm up our garage or the room in the barn. How do you keep your workshop warm?

Brushes

Y’all I have been sooo silly.

Seriously, for years. As smart and handy as I am I have been stupid. I have been ruining brushes for varnishing projects or using sponge brushes for the last 7 years {ugh maybe more}  just because I never read the label right. Although I swear they changed the wording.

I have been doing it all wrong. I knew that you could use mineral spirits to clean your brush after using a oil based stain or polyurethane. I would, but the brush would always harden up on me and after a couple of uses it would be garbage. No matter how good the quality or how much I spent on it. I resorted to just soaking them in gasoline like my grandparents did. After awhile that just didn’t work either so I just converted to sponge brushes.

A couple months ago I decided to try again. I bought two Bestt Liebco Master brushes; one for oil based stains and one for oil based clears. I had bought one about a year ago and it seemed okay but it gummed up as well. For some reason when I read the packaging this go around though some thing clicked…

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Notice the last four words of the first paragraph, “…use mineral spirits first.” I am not sure at all why I did not get that sooo many years ago. I mean I cleaned the brushes up with that. I swear they did not have the word “first” there before. Let me tell you I always enjoyed staining and varnishing before, but it is even more enjoyable knowing to prep the brush in mineral spirits BEFORE I use it. On a side note these brushes are awesome and love them, we shall how they hold up.

Varathane One Step {Review}

While working on my DIY x-mas presents I had a chance to try Varathane One Step Stain & Polyurethane, in colors Early American & Dark Walnut. We bought the Early American first and after hearing back on color preference we decided it was too light for the gift we intended to use it on{bar stools}. However it seemed to be the perfect color, based on sample at store, for another gift.

Now generally I love anything that boasts a stain and polyurethane combination. Usually my problem is it doesn’t come in a suitable color. I have used another brand and loved it very much. Varathane’s version not so much. The Early American seems to be a bit lighter than represented by the can {not surprisingly} and shown at the store. The Dark Walnut was MUCH lighter than the regular stain. I am not sure if it was that particular can or what. The One Step is on the left with 2 coats and the right is Varathane Dark Walnut stain.

It did give a nice finish with polyurethane half. However I would look at either buying the stain & polyurethane separately or another brand of stain & poly combo.

If you like this, please check out my new site with more like this at Old Country Love!

A DIY Christmas: Part 2

SO this Christmas I think I went overboard on do it yourself presents…

Here are the rest of the DIY X-mas presents {read Part 1 here}…

1 Rogue Engineer Dress Up Center

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6 Ana White barstools

As you can tell these were a family affair.

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Ana White Ladder Shelf

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Sadly I don’t have a picture of it finished.In my flurry to finish projects I never got a snap shot.  The shelf was an interesting build for an old farmhouse. We had to build it in the opening for our bathroom, it was the only level/plumb spot!  It definitely was an interesting project and a huge hit!

Please, please, please someone remind me next year to not over due the DIY x-mas present!

Dog-Gone Chili

Last night I made chili. It was sooo cold and I knew my hubby would need something to warm him up after working a long day. I decided to make some chili for the doggies too. If I had to pee outside when its this cold I would need something warm as well. That and I had a 3 pound thing of ground turkey to use up in one sitting.

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp. evoo
  • 1-2 cups diced butternut squash
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 – 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 4 – 6 oz cans of tomato paste {or about 24 oz}
  • {2 cups water, if needed}
  • 2 apples, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp garlic powder {if you are uncomfortable using it, leave it out}
  • 2 tbsp. wheat germ

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, place the turkey, evoo, squash, carrot, and 1/2 c water. Cook until turkey is cooked and the squash and carrots have changed color. About 15 minutes. Then pour in the kidney beans and tomato paste. At this point it looked too thick so I added 2 cups of water. Stir the tomato paste and kidney beans{and water if added}  until well combined. Add the remaining ingredients; apple, bell pepper, seasonings, and wheat germ. Let it simmer for as long as you like.

Now when my hubby got home I had 2 pots of chili on my stove, his and the recipe above. He tasted his, then he tasted theirs, and he asked me why? Why does theirs taste better than mine???? I am not sure why I make better food than when I follow a recipe from someone else. We laughed and said this is perfect dish for the blog…and the perfect name, Dog-Gone Chili, since it was a doggone it moment.

 
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Excuses

That is what I have been making.

I have been making excuses. Apparently I had an epiphany the yesterday. I make excuses. I am too tired. When I am actually just feeling lazy. I don’t have enough upper body strength. Okay that may be true, but find a way to work around that. I am not good enough at it. Then lets try harder, try again, show some perseverance.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I definitely believe that one. I make excuses a lot with the projects on the house. I don’t have enough skill. I can’t use that tool. I’m busy with such & such. If I really wanted this house finished, and the addition done, I would get off my butt and do those projects I can’t do and stretch myself in the areas I lack. I have been reading The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian and I think that may be opening my eyes to the laziness in me. Seriously, if my hubby can work 3 jobs and still manage to work on the house as he does. What in the world is my problem that I can’t I do more?

I got whammied with a blog post by Reality Daydream {previously Sawdust & Embryos} and Facebook post by Nicole Curtis  both saying how when life knocks you down you should just get back up again. Not to give up just because you stumbled. Now sometimes God knocks us down when he doesn’t something to happen a certain way but sometimes he wants us to work harder or in a different way {with or without knowing we have His help & sometimes only because of His help}, to get us in His place He has for us.

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{This meme seems to fit the epiphany, but I couldn’t find the exact link for it.}

A DIY Christmas: Part 1

We had gobs of DIY Christmas presents happening around the farm this year. It started with a special family birthday sign I made last minute for my grandma’s birthday on the 15th and the craziness of trying to finish presents continued through Christmas Eve.

For my fabulous sisters in law and my gorgeous cousin, I made Bath & Body bags. Now I am crunchy so not just any old product will do. Add to it that I wanted to spend minimum…not because of the lovely ladies, but because of my budget. I managed to scrape up some fabulous creations from my kitchen and stores. I made them some fabulous Peppermint Bath Salts, Lavender Oatmeal Soak, and Brownie Sugar Scrub. I swear to God the Brownie scrub smells delicious!

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I found the recipe for Peppermint Bath Salts at Our Best Bites/Fizzy Peppermint Bath Salts

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The Lavender Oatmeal Soak modified from Princess Pinky Girl/Lavender Bath Soak {I tripled this recipe.}

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Finally, the decadent Brownie Sugar Scrub at The Idea Room/Chocolate Sugar Scrub I quadrupled this recipe so I could also give a jar to my grandma…she loves chocolate!

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Check out the tutorial links above each item for detailed directions. They were super easy. Definitely perfect for your significant other to make or them for you. I even managed to have a little left over for myself and am waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them!