cover pic

cover pic

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Is This Really February?

I know Punxsutawney Phil forecasted six more weeks of winter, but surely he was mistaken.  For most of this week, we've got temps near 70 degrees here in the Alleghenies.  One of our school groups planned an outing many weeks ago for families to go tubing at a nearby ski resort.  Our children had been looking forward to it for days, but when we arrived, it was a balmy 66 degrees on the slopes.  I didn't know whether to bring them t-shirts to change into or the traditional snowsuits and sledding gear.  We settled on something in between, but I did see a few teens skiing and snowboarding in shorts and tank tops.

I didn't participate in the tubing, but stood on the sidelines enjoying the unseasonable warmth and tried to get pictures with my phone because I forgot my new camera.

My youngest is afraid to go on water slides, so I wasn't sure she would participate, but she was the first member of our family to grab a tube and get in line.

And she loved it.  It was safer than sledding at our house since you didn't have to worry about hitting a fence, a tree, or going over a ravine at the bottom.

Initially they all went down one by one, but they soon learned it was more fun to link together and make a train.

The only problem was that our youngest son was usually at the front of their train, and when they came to a stop, he got flung out of the tube and rolled several times in the mud.

And that mud at the bottom just got worse as the evening wore on.  By the time we decided to call it a night and go into the lodge to eat dinner, everyone's backsides were covered in it.  Our smallest son was literally coated in mud from his neck to his toes.  I had them strip out of their outerwear in the parking lot and did my best to wrap up those clothes in a manner that wouldn't totally wreck the back of our SUV, but it was just one big mess.  I'm doing heavy duty laundry today and cleaning the inside of our vehicle, unfortunately.  We seriously looked like country bumpkin hillbillies at the resort next to the clean, mud-free skiers and snowboarders who enjoyed completely snow-covered slopes all the way to the bottom. But the kiddos had fun and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Meanwhile, back at the farmhouse, our pets and livestock have also been loving this spring-like weather.

Our lambs and goat kids are running and hopping all over the place.  Their favorite activity is to jump on the back of our large lone ram and ride him around the pasture.  They've even worn bare a patch of wool on his back where they like to sit.  He doesn't seem to mind as he goes about the business of eating any green grass he can find.  I have got to get out in the pasture with a chair and my camera when I have some free time to videotape it.

I hope all of you are getting some of this warm weather too.  Have a great weekend, Everyone! 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Guardian Angel Story

Photo by PawPaw

I recently read somewhere that sometimes we just have to be thankful for what didn't happen in our lives, and I began to remember the number of near tragedies and catastrophes that almost occurred in my life.  Even though I didn't grow up being told that I had a guardian angel, we had a popular print in our house of an angel watching over two small children as they cross a broken down bridge.  Our sons now have that same painting hanging in their bedroom, and our family prays the guardian angel prayer throughout the week.  There's one particular incident that stands out in my life that has been coming back to me lately for some reason, and it solidified my belief that there are celestial beings at work in our lives.  

Over a decade ago, when we lived in the southeastern U.S., I dropped off my husband and our four oldest children at a local bookstore while I went to a nearby shopping center with our third daughter who was a baby at the time.  I don't remember what I was buying or even the name of the store I was leaving, but my arms were full of shopping bags, my purse, a diaper bag, and our infant daughter as I walked through the parking lot toward our minivan.  Everything kind of happened all at once, but as I was opening the passenger door of the van and placing our daughter in her carseat, a young man suddenly appeared around the front of our vehicle.  He stood right next to me and nervously asked if I had the time.  He was shifting his weight back and forth, looking around, and also eyeing my belongings.  I don't remember what I said, or if I even had on a watch, but I remember the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach and the goosebumps that prickled on my skin.  With our baby in the van but not yet strapped in, and my arms still holding some of our stuff, I was vulnerable.  I couldn't leave and walk away, nor could I quickly get inside our van and lock the doors.  He was close enough to grab me or any of my things, but then out of nowhere, a large beat-up, rusty van pulled up into the parking space on the other side of us.  The stranger beside me paused and watched as one by one each member of the large family got out of that van and began walking behind us toward the store.  There were lots of them.  Children and parents and teenagers and grandparents and aunts and uncles.  They got out and took their time, talking to one another and very gradually making their way past the rear window of my van.  I don't know exactly what I was thinking or planning to do, but I was aware that this entourage was causing the stranger beside me to back up away from me a bit.  From my peripheral vision, I could see him looking more and more nervous as he looked from them to me.  Instinctively, I hurried up and strapped in our daughter and tossed our bags into the front seat while keeping my keys in my hand.  At all times I was aware of this man's presence, but mostly what I remember was how amazed I was that people just kept coming out of the van beside me and walking slowly past us to the store.  And somehow I knew that this extremely large family was giving me time.  I slid the door closed and walked around the front of my van to avoid walking past the stranger who was still hanging out right next to us.  I tried my best not to look nervous or afraid, but inside my coat I was sweating and shaking.  I got in my minivan and locked the doors.  At that moment, the last of those family members crossed the parking lot, and the strange man walked towards a red car parked in front of me.  He got in, and I noticed for the first time that there was a woman in the driver's side waiting for him.  She was sitting directly across from me, but she was hunched down, and she wouldn't lift her head to look up at me.  I never saw her face.  I put the keys in the ignition and got out of that parking lot as the whole event replayed in my head and I tried to make sense of it.  Mostly, I just remember whispering "Thank you, God.  Thank you, God."  When I got to the bookstore with our baby and found my husband, it was then that I allowed myself to feel all the emotions of fear and anxiety and near-panic that I kept at bay a few minutes earlier.

My husband and I had no doubts that the stranger in the parking lot had ill intentions where I was concerned.  I don't know why it never occurred to me to report the incident.  I think I was just so grateful to get out of there that I hadn't looked at their license plate or even studied the man well enough to describe his appearance very well.  What struck me the most as I reflected on it later was how peculiar that so many people could have gotten out of that van beside me.  They just kept coming and coming and coming, this seemingly never-ending entourage of passengers who loudly made their way past us, taking their time and not paying any attention to us whatsoever.  But I knew that they were placed there at exactly the right time that day by my guardian angel, and maybe my daughter's too. 

I wish there was a way to let those people know what their presence in a parking lot did for me that day.  Perhaps they saved a life.  Maybe they kept someone from committing a felony and destroying someone's future.  Who knows the ripple effect that family caused that day?  But I am grateful for them and for guardian angels who work behind the scenes of our lives.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Blog Post #200!

As my children are playing outside and preparing to go for a bike ride with their dad on this 70 degree afternoon in February, I just realized that I am about to post for the 200th time.  Coincidentally, post #100 was published last year on Feb. 21, and I commemorated it by sharing my top 5 viewed posts of that first year of blogging.  I thought I would do the same today, except I won't include the "Popular Posts" already featured on the sidebar.  So aside from those, below are the other top 5 posts of the past year, from blog posts 100-199.  If you missed reading them the first time, just click on the link and you can see them now.

I wrote this post last March when I was feeling rather discouraged about my perceived slow growth of this blog.  I had recently installed Google Analytics and was checking my stats and comparing myself to other way more experienced, way more popular bloggers.    I was actually seriously considering throwing in the towel, but I'm so glad I didn't.  I am grateful to all you readers and fellow bloggers who sent me words of encouragement and have continued to faithfully read my posts.  I feel a little embarrassed that I might have sounded rather whiny in that post, and I'm happy to report that I've cut back on comparisons as I go about just "running my race."

Creating delicious meals for my family and friends is one of my favorite things to do, especially if I'm not rushed.  Making fun, quirky snacks that the kids delight in is also a favorite past time of mine.  Some of these ideas came from Pinterest, some from cookbooks, and most were adapted by me based on what I had in the house.  I think the general consensus amongst the littles in our family was that  the yogurt pops were the best.

There are many stories I can tell about the adventures we've had while living in this farmhouse.  The story of the little goat that spent the night with some fraternity brothers is certainly one of the more memorable ones.  We learned a lesson that night about selling livestock, and fortunately, the goat wasn't hurt and the story has a happy ending.

Sometimes I'm really surprised by the views that certain posts get.  This one was my emotional ramblings of the pride I felt watching our daughter run a final cross-country meet of the season.  I witnessed her walking part of that 5K and almost giving up, but then I saw her reach down inside and pull out a surge of energy that propelled her across the finish line to beat her personal record.  And I was flooded with the love and emotions that a mother feels as she watches her child struggle and suffer and nearly quit, but then she overcomes and achieves her goal.  It's nerve-wracking.  It's gut-wrenching.  But it's one of the most satisfying parts of being a parent.

Interestingly enough, while I've been composing this current post, the one I just published last Wednesday jumped into this list.  It's full of items on Amazon that I would love to have in our farmhouse, and that I suspect many of you readers would love to have too.  If you click on the pictures or the blue Amazon links, they'll take you directly to the merchandise for sale.  I wasn't sure how I felt about finally running ads or promoting affiliate links.  Frankly, I was a bit afraid it would drive away some readers.  But here it is finishing out my list of the most popular posts of this past year.  To see the 8 posts that were at the very top of the list, just look on the sidebar of this blog.

In conclusion, thank you all for sticking with me through the past year of another 100 posts.  I truly enjoy blogging, more than I ever dreamed I would.  And I absolutely love seeing the numbers of you viewers from all over the world increasing monthly.  Thanks especially to those of you who take a few minutes to leave a comment here and on social media.  It is a pleasure to get to know each and every one of you.

After showing you the photo at the top of my kiddos outside in shorts this afternoon, I'll close with one I took just 10 days ago.  It's hard to believe these were both taken in the same month.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

15 Things Every Preppy Farmhouse Should Have

Valentine's Day got me thinking about love and how much I love this old farmhouse that seems to have a life of its own.  And I wondered if it had a voice and could create its own wish list, what would it want that it doesn't already have?  I'm thinking these 15 things would be great in every farmhouse:

1. These Gingham Checkered Cloth Napkins would be perfect in any farmhouse kitchen.  You could mix and match them with a number of tablecloths or just use them on your bare wooden table. 

2. This house has seen me sneak far too many desserts when I think no one else is looking.  The Life is Short...Eat Dessert First handmade sign belongs somewhere in my kitchen, I am certain.  But it doesn't apply to the children or Hubby.  How many of you can relate?

3. Don't you just love these Copper Hurricane Lanterns?  You can place candles or LED lights in them or do something festive and creative from Pinterest inside.  I've got to get some of these before next Christmas.  I think they'd also be great to have lit on a summer night while sitting on the porch swing under the stars.
4. Every old farmhouse needs a couple of these Reversible, Washable, Braided Area Rugs lying around.  I would love to have one for our living room and one for the dining room.  I've had to throw out more rugs than I can remember due to accidents and messes made by puppies, toddlers, and sick children.  Being able to wash them or flip them over sounds fantastic to me.
5. What preppy bathroom wouldn't want a Teal Paisley Fabric Shower Curtain?  This would be perfect to hang in the spring and summer, and it kind of matches a tablecloth I have.  Not that the shower and the kitchen table need to match, mind you.
6. These Tartan Plaid Ceramic Tile Coasters are too cute not to have sitting on the coffee table or end table.  I'm constantly having to distribute coasters to family members so they're not placing hot coffee or tea cups on the wooden furniture here.  
7. These Argyle Wall Hanging Wood Letters would be terrific in the children's rooms spelling out their names or something fun or motivational.  They're hand painted and can be purchased in different colors.
8. Can't you picture this Personalized Aluminum Sign hanging above your kitchen sink or the doorway?  I love it, and what makes it even better is that it's made here in the USA.
9. Mother Teresa is my absolute favorite saint, and this quote of hers is made into these Handmade Maple Signs by a husband and wife team who make each sign as they're ordered.  What a great reminder every day to start changing the world by loving your family first.
10. I have to admit I was unaware of the existence of these Handmade Monogrammed IPad/Tablet Holders until recently.  They're made of solid wood in a cutting board style, and I can't imagine how we all managed following recipes on Pinterest without one of these holding up our tablets in the kitchen.
11. What preppy farm girl wouldn't want a Pink Argyle Lightswitch Plate Cover in her bedroom?  I so wish I'd had one when I was a teen in the eighties.  
12. For all of us backyard chicken owners, there's a Handmade Burlap Print for our kitchens.  This time of year we're never sure if we'll find half a dozen eggs or no eggs in the nesting boxes.  In another month or so, however, there will be more farm fresh eggs than we know what to do with.
13. This Handcrafted Rustic Farmhouse Mirror with Shutters has so much interesting design and texture and would work hanging in a number of rooms.  I've got some teenagers who would stop and admire their reflections in this a number of times a day.
14. The book, A Touch of Farmhouse Charm, is definitely next on my book list.  If I have this, I can probably eliminate entire boards of pins on Pinterest.  It claims to have easy DIY projects, so it must have been written for people like me.  I hope there are a bunch of pallet board ideas in it.
15. Seriously, what farmhouse is complete without an entire season of shiplap-loving home-flipping Chip and Joanna Gaines in Fixer Upper?  I can easily spend an entire rainy Saturday viewing one episode after another of these two and their family renovating, decorating, and farming.  They inspire me to get up off my chair and consider knocking out a wall somewhere.  They've made rustic farm style chic.
All of the items in this post can be found at Amazon by clicking on the blue link.  I was thrilled to learn that Amazon has a new store called Handmade at Amazon that features artisans and their handcrafted products.  Many items can be custom made just for your home and family, and it's pretty cool to read about the people who create your decor.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links.   I receive a small referrer fee from purchases made through Amazon after clicking through.  Thank you for reading and supporting Preppy Mountain Farmhouse.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

20 Things I Love

Last month I read a blog post by Ashley at The Big White Farmhouse blog where she made a list of 20 simple things she loves about her life.  I thought that was a wonderful way to start the new year, and it inspired me to do the same.  I decided to wait to post mine near Valentine's Day since that seemed fitting, so here is the list I came up with:

1. That first cup of steaming flavored coffee in my favorite mug when I come downstairs at 6 AM.
2. Holding and petting our 2 Maine cooncats.

3. Spending hours browsing in a library or bookstore.
4. Attending concerts and shows with my husband.

5. Sitting in my new kitchen as the sun streams through the windows.
6. The smell of homemade bread baking in the oven.

7. Seeing several "Comments Awaiting Moderation" in my blog inbox after publishing a post.
8. Sitting down to blog when the house is quiet and I have no interruptions.

9. Playing board games as a family on long winter nights.
10. The feel of a baby in my arms.

11. The smell of crisp sheets after they've hung on the clothesline on a sunny day.
12. Walking through the woods with my camera.

13. Filling a pew at church when grandparents and adult children come to visit.
14. Trying out a new dinner recipe while sipping a glass of wine.

15. Feeling the breeze off the mountain blow through our kitchen screen doors on a summer evening.
16. The sound of water flowing in the brook beside our house.

17. My afternoon cup of homemade mocha with nutmeg and cinnamon on my way to the school.
18. Watching goat kids and lambs frolic in the pastures.

19. Licking raw cookie dough off the beaters.
20. One big snowfall each winter with all of us at home for a snow day.

This list just scratches the surface.  Those of you who read this blog know that each season and holiday brings another unique collection of photographs of the things I love most about life.  Focusing on those things and the positive in every person and situation I encounter is one of my goals for this year.  

So what about you?  What would be on your list of 20 things you love?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Homemade Ideas for Valentine's Day

Pretzel Treats

 With Valentine's Day less than a week away, I need to start planning to do something special for the ones I love.  These are some of the things I made last year. 

Raspberry Filled Sugar Cookies

Heart Shaped Cucumber & Cheese Slices

Cupid Floats
Recipes for these treats can be found on my blog here.

And here are a couple that I actually made on Valentine's Day last year:

Salted Caramel Cocoa

Cocoa Pudding Cake

The recipes for these can be found in my blog archive here.

How about you?  Do you have any special Valentine's Day recipes you make for your sweethearts?  I'd love some new ideas for this year.