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Showing posts with label Country living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Country living. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Learning Bunco!

In my quest to bring people together to enjoy one another's company face-to-face, some friends and I decided to start up a Bunco group.  When our family lived in a charming Southern suburb decades ago, Bunco was the big thing with the SAHM crowd.  I was never a part of one, but I did create Bunco-themed soaps to sell as prizes at these Bunco parties.  They sounded like a lot of fun, so when a friend approached me with an interest a few months ago, I jumped on board.

There is a plethora of information on the Web regarding this game.  We thought that would make it simple to learn the rules, but what we discovered is that nearly every website has variations of the rules, which made things rather confusing for all of us newbies.  However, the themes and food and decorating ideas I found on blogs and Pinterest were fantastic.  There are so many fun things I'd like to try the next time I host one of these gatherings, and maybe I'll actually have the time when I'm not overseeing so many outdoor projects that are happening simultaneously. 

I didn't actually have a Bunco game myself, so I was fortunate enough to find free downloadable printables of score sheets, table markers, and extra lists of rules.  These can be found at

Although I found adorable homemade cupcakes with sugar cubes made to look like dice, I took a shortcut and bought miniature cupcakes from Weis and placed real dice on them that we can use to play with later.  The awesome edible ones found on Pinterest can be made by following the instructions at

All kinds of prizes can be used to award the various winners (and losers, and random participants).  Some groups simply pitch in $5 each month and the prizes are monetary.  Since this was our first time to gather and play, and it was at our farmhouse with our bottom refrigerator shelf full of farm fresh eggs, every prize was a carton of brown eggs.  I look forward to playing this again next month, especially now that we all have a better idea of how to play and keep score, and I especially look forward to hosting again and trying out some Pinterest Bunco inspiration.

For those of you interested in hosting your own group or who just need some fresh ideas, these are  some of the pins I collected:

And just to show you what was going on in my backyard in the hours leading up to our first Bunco Night (along with another wicked thunderstorm and broken water pipes on the other side of our property): 

This is where our pool had been, now covered in grass seed and straw with last year's garden down below covered in plastic to kill weeds until we can get some raised beds built for a flower garden.  This job was literally finished just a few hours before my game-playing friends arrived, and although it's an eyesore, it's still a vast improvement from what it looked like last week.  Five days ago you'd have thought we had a mini-landfill in our back yard.

I'm now in the fun dreaming and planning stages of a backyard oasis.  Back to Pinterest I go.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Summer of '17 Photo Gallery #2

More summer photos as we enter the middle of summer already.  There's been a lot of baking going on in our farmhouse kitchen---this summer by our 15 year-old daughter.  It's all so good, but I'm trying very hard to limit myself to very small portions or just a taste.  Surely there are no carbs or calories in just a taste, right?

Our grandson tags along with us to all our usual summer spots once a week.  His aunties and uncles absolutely adore him.

This past week he began walking while he was with us at the house of some friends.  It was just as exciting to see him take his first steps as it was with all of my own children.

We've been trying out some new restaurants the past couple of weeks.

We're venturing out and sampling places we wouldn't normally try.  And we've been pleasantly surprised every time.  This summer for me is about taking some chances, stepping out of my comfort zone, and being open to adventure.

Don't get me wrong; I love our country life.

Our little farm on the mountain brings its unique beauty and peace...

...and its own type of quirky excitement. 

But as we celebrated my grandmother's 99th birthday with her this weekend, I knew that I want to live the rest of my life to the fullest.  That means taking some chances, doing something different, and seizing opportunities as they come. 

And loving and enjoying everything in my life that I already have.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer of '17 Photo Gallery #1

No words, just early summer pics of our not-so-preppy mountain farm life.

 It's hard to believe we're already in the last week in June.  I need summer to slow down.  Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Country Weekends in the Summer

 This is what our weekends have been looking like so far this summer.  

 Our twelve year old son dug us a much bigger fire pit, so we've been having campfires galore.

 With so many flowers and shrubs blooming, the bumblebees are swarming around our farmhouse.

 And with so many summer birthdays around here, our resident cupcake baker has been quite busy.

This weekend she made chocolate cupcakes stuffed with her special peanut butter frosting, topped with chocolate shavings.  They were to die for and worth every gram of carbohydrates.

 Our grandson has been cruising and crawling around, and fortunately, we have many energetic bodies to keep up with him because he is busy!

All kinds of things are hatching out and metamorphosing. 

There have been some tricky puzzles that only a few family members could solve.  She, by the way, figured out to open this almost immediately.  It was putting it back together that made everyone a bit crazy.

We've had some adorable baby interactions going on between the species.

 It wouldn't be a summer weekend without plenty of front porch sitting.  But I'll have more on that in my next post.

 How did you spend your weekend?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Pool Tales: The Final Chapter

 When we bought this house nearly eleven years ago, this was the view from our patio off the back of our old farmhouse.  We never cared much about having our own swimming pool, but since it was already here, that was pretty awesome.  Except for the fact that I had two preschoolers, a toddler, and an infant, and as you can see, there was no fence around the pool.  But it was an incredible view, and at night, the moonlight reflected off the water, and the stars were so bright overhead, and I thought my husband and I would spend every summer night on rafts in this pool.  We'd float around in the quiet watching fireflies and sipping some wine or a Gin & Tonic after the little ones had gone to bed with the baby monitor plugged in next to us.  I'm not sure what I imagined our teenage son doing at the time...listening to music, watching a movie, reading a book?  It doesn't really matter because we only ever ventured into that pool by ourselves one time at night anyway.

 Because here's what no one ever told me about having a swimming pool in the country on the side of the mountain: all kinds of creatures come to the pool...especially at night.  We had already seen the multitudes of long, thick black snakes slither up from under the concrete each May when the weather got warm and we were just opening up the pool.  Sometimes early in the season, we'd be floating in the water on a sunny afternoon and two or three snakes would come slithering along the concrete and off into the grass.  We discovered early on that mice, birds, moles, and even an occasional rabbit came to the pool at night and then drowned in the water early in the morning.  We've had Amish neighbors' geese and ducks show up there, and one time, even a cow!  Of course, lots and lots of insects, centipedes, and spiders are also drawn to the water, and that means when it gets dark, the bats come too.

The first night that my husband and I actually got the kids to bed without us falling asleep in the process, we poured ourselves some vino and sneaked out to the pool.  Never mind that the boys' room looked out over the pool; we'd just quietly step in for a quick dip, and they'd never know we were out there.  We were in the water sipping wine looking at those magnificent stars and feeling like the luckiest couple on earth.  This was paradise; who needs a vacation?  That was until I felt something swoosh down and brush against my hair.  Then it happened again and again.  My husband felt it too.  We looked up and there were bats swooping down to catch the bugs flying around and landing on the water.  And they didn't stop.  And I was done.  No matter how quiet, peaceful, or romantic of a night this was, there was no room for bats in my vision.  And we never did that again.  I figured that one day in the future, when our kids would be older and in school or out of the house, we'd go out there alone again while it was still daylight when the bats were wherever they go at night around here.  I don't want to think too hard about that.

But alas, that is not meant to be because this past winter our pool liner ripped.  We noticed the water level going down after the pool was covered.  We knew that come spring, we would have to finally fork out the money to have it replaced.  We weren't thrilled about it, but we were prepared.  But things just got worse.  With each violent storm we got this winter and early spring, the situation got worse and worse.  Pieces of the liner tore and blew all over the yard and lane.  Where the pool cover had pulled away, it looked to me like concrete was starting to crumble, and was that actual dirt falling into the pool?  When I made the call to the swimming pool business and told them we might need a little bit more than just a new liner, he asked me to send him pictures.  I knew it must be bad.

 After receiving several quotes of upwards of $15,000, I told my husband we just weren't going to do it.  After the first month that we have it open, our kids lose interest in swimming in it.  Last year after lunch each day, I had to force them to spend an hour in the pool because their dad and I had just spent hundreds of dollars on more pool chemicals and hours of our time cleaning it.  I literally had to set a timer to ensure they'd be out there a full hour.  I realize how ridiculous this sounds now and I wonder why we went on as long as we did.  So this Memorial Day weekend, instead of pulling off the pool cover, vacuuming up hundreds of tadpoles, and pouring in pounds and pounds of chlorine and stabilizer to get our pool ready for the summer, we'll be waiting for equipment to show up to begin breaking up the concrete and filling in our pool.  It feels rather sad because it's yet another reminder that an era of our life here is coming to an end.  Our youngest five children have grown up here, and their memories of summer are spattered with learning to swim, diving for toys, swimming until their teeth chatter from the 66 degree water temperature in early June, and eating popsicles around the pool.  Our summers will be different.

But there is a silver lining to this final chapter of my tale: I have big plans for that nice flat area on this side of the mountain.  Once it's all filled in, and it's covered in thick, green grass, I have my eye on some canopies, outdoor tables and Adirondack chairs, some wonderful fire pits that can also be used for tables, a tiki bar, and fairy lights.  I can see some fantastic farm-to-table dinners out there with lots of friends and family gathered together.  The moonlight won't be reflecting off the pool anymore, but the stars will be just as bright, and it will be just as peaceful as it has always been.

And I'm trusting that the bats won't find our back yard as enticing as it was before.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Easter Holiday Highlights

Nearly a week after the fact, and I've finally uploaded the Easter photos, collected the Easter baskets, and finished off the last of the Easter dinner.  Except for the colored eggs; there are still lots of those.  And the decorations are still up.  And I still have half a bag of Easter candy stashed away to use as bribes or rewards as needed.  Anyway, this is what Easter looked like at our preppy mountain farmhouse this year.  We didn't invite the hen above into our family picture with us sitting in our clean Church clothes; she photobombed it, and our son caught her.

We took dinner to our grown son's house the afternoon before Easter.  Our boys actually got to hold their nephew for once; usually they can't get him out of their sister's arms.

And his uncles adore him.  It is so much easier to keep a baby entertained when he has so many aunties and uncles around to make a fuss over him.


Our youngest daughter and I made dozens of deviled eggs over the weekend.  Our hens are laying around twelve eggs every day, and we have eggs coming out the wazoo.  I've been scrambling them and making custard and boiling them and even freezing them.  But we still have six full cartons in the refrigerator with another dozen or so that were dyed last Saturday.

These were just a select few that the children and their dad colored last weekend.  All of our hens lay brown eggs of various shades, and everyone wanted to make metallic ones, so we weren't sure how they would turn out.  Some looked golden, and others not shown here were a rather putrid brownish-greenish color.

I actually bought myself a new Easter dress this year from TJ Maxx.  Two of my adolescent photographers were trying to get me to pose in more interesting ways, but this was the only one I'd feel comfortable sharing.  No Kardashian wannabes here.

But we did have some kind of Spiderman-Samurai character running around our property searching for eggs.  I'm not sure what look she was going for; she's her own unique blend of some kind of wonderful.

And her ten year-old brother is his own blend of awesomeness too.

This guy showed up for the egg hunt as well, but all he was really interested in was eating the fresh green buds on the bush above him.

All of my kiddos still participate in our annual egg hunt, and their dad doesn't make it easy for them.

Every year as they get older and older, at least one of them says that maybe next year they'll just help hide the eggs, and not be a part of the hunt anymore.  But the next year comes, and whether they like to admit it or not, they still get excited about finding their color-coded stuffed eggs.

And I'm holding on to that for as long as I can.

I hope your weekend is your own blend of wonderful awesomeness.