Farm life

Sorting. Packing. Moving.

We just moved – for the ninth time in our married life. No, we aren’t military. No we don’t work for the government, apparently we are just vagabonds, as my brother in law put it.

I know people who HATE moving, won’t move, are afraid to move. And in the middle of sorting and packing up our shit, er personal belongings, I totally get it. Moving is hard. And the longer you have been in one place, the more “personal belongings” you have to deal with.

But in a strange, hurts so good kind of way, I kind of like the result of moving. There is something in the sorting that is nearly spiritual for me. Back breaking? Mind bending? Soul sucking? Yes, all of that, but it can also be a physical and emotional cathartic exercise for me Whoaaaa.. freak show alarms just went off. Stick with me, that’s as weird as it’s getting, promise.

Somewhere between sorting through the “must keeps” in my 50 coffee mug collection and going through bins and bins of old photos that were destined to be scrapbooked in the 90s, I find myself getting really aggressive about unnecessary baggage. I become a ruthless machine. No, we will not move these frickin 15 pound yearbooks one more time. No, I do not need a bin of decorations for every holiday. No, no, no!

I find myself choosing to drop things from the past that seemed necessary, seemed defining at some point, that are no longer useful or the right things for me now. They aren’t all bad, but they aren’t right for us now. So physically, bit by bit, we intentionally sort our lives. We evaluate every piece, every book, every influence and begin to drop the baggage of the past. I had a friend tell me that when they move, they walk the edges of every property with a sage smudge and just intentionally leave their past and the past that comes with the property behind. They invite a new beginning. I know some who march the property lines and pray, others who just bless the home or arrive with an intentional expectation of something new. In all of this, we are simply sorting – declaring that the old struggle, the past challenges and labels, the time to leave it memories, the 20 extra coffee mugs we simply don’t need are not coming with us to this new start.

In the process, I am sorting internally. Realizing this gift, photo or way of thinking about things is no longer going to have a place in my life. Old photos, letters, papers, books that remind of times that don’t belong in today, I’m not hauling it forward any more. Not in boxes. Not in my heart. So, as we lighten our “things” we begin to lighten our souls and we are set free in ways we never imagined, in ways we may not even see.

So here I am on the other side, celebrating the goodness of God and the few things that are very special to us in our new space. I’m really excited at the new things that are part of this new journey! I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. The sorting takes time friends, it’s hard and sometimes you are going to pack it up and move it anyway. But, when you’re ready, you will realize on the other side, it shouldn’t have come at all. It’s ok, no shame, just get those 20 coffee mugs in a box and drop it at the nearest donation center. XO friends.

Uncategorized

Be Gentle.

This sweet little image was when my niece visited the farm recently. Our days old chicks were too adorable to just look at, but when her two year old hands would squeeze a little too tightly, her sweet mama would say kindly, “be gentle”.


Be gentle.

It’s a message we all need to remember when dealing with others, with life, with creatures, with our earth. Be gentle.

It’s a simple call to consider – are the words, the actions, the choices I’m making squeezing a little too hard for the fragile, delicate life in our grasp? Let’s be a little kinder, a little softer, a little more conscious of our impact, shall we?

Uncategorized

The Richness of Non-doing

“I’ve basically forgotten how to tap into the richness of ‘non-doing.'” – Josh Radnor. 

When people visit my home, they will often remark, “it’s so peaceful”. It somehow feels clean to them, like a retreat. I have always assumed it was simply because it wasn’t their mess and joke it off. But, my home IS peaceful and I think it’s as much a result of what I DO, as what I “undo” on a regular basis.

Roses, peace, take time to smell the rosesWith all the Marie Kondo craze and organizing hacks on social media, I know we are all seeking control, peace, joy in our homes….even if it means cleaning out the closet or office to try and find it. Side note, not to brag here, but I think I was Kondo before there was one. I have nailed the concept of editing what does not bring joy or is not useful anymore. It’s part of why my home feels peaceful. It’s a good rule of thumb, but not the whole solution.

My mantra at home has always been to reduce “quiet noise”. What is that? It’s stuff that visually clutters my life so that I can’t think straight. It is the piles of papers on and under the desk, the 24 pairs of shoes I trip over at the front door. There is no voice, but believe me when I say, it screams! You know what I’m talking about.

You might say I take a graphic design approach to my home – I seek the white space, the less is more version. I don’t have appliances on every square inch of my kitchen counter top. I rotate my special “things” seasonally so I can use them and see them, but not have everything out at once. In this way – by the “undoing” of something on every surface, the refrigerator, the desk, the walls…I have created a space to breath. To allow a moment without noise. That’s my way, it doesn’t mean it’s your way. But there is something more to this striving.

It occurs to me that the “fads” of organizing and living in our homes from Hygge to Kondo, Container Store to Ikea, and the seeking of perfect spaces, is really a symptom. We are stressed, our lives are filled with messages, news, sound bytes, something hanging on every surface of our thoughts and heart. We are overrun by quiet noise. Our souls don’t have an ounce of “white space” to just rest, day dream, imagine….let alone read, learn, experience. When I am restless or stuck or have a moment pause between things, that mindless reach for the phone to check my feed or texts, is part of the problem. (I know, here I am a marketing gal, writing a blog and sharing it on social, talking about it.. don’t look at me like that.😎.)

We have to be honest though. We don’t have peace because we are seeking it in things, accomplishments, organized spaces, affirmation, projects, bins and lists. Think about it – peace is often depicted with images like a green pasture, like a lamb…gentle, sweet, soft, with bird song, flowers, quiet lapping ripples on water. We long for this peace and look for it by “doing” something. What we need to relearn is the art of “non-doing”.

I’m not talking about zoning out in front of the television (noise!). I’m talking about walking the dog, taking time to drive in quiet and just think, sit and read a book, write in a journal, look at the view from your windows, sit on the good furniture…in your front room. Non-doing is ok but we just aren’t allowing ourselves to stop long enough to realize that your dreams, ideas, imagination can’t be heard over the quiet noise in our souls.


We need to take control and allow space. Space to literally smell the roses…leave the head phones off and take a walk, listen to your favorite album, sip the special wine, turn the TV off, rest.

Maybe this is why the Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God”. But being still is hard. It requires “non-doing”. We can not possibly hear, see or taste how sweet true peace is without sitting still.

After all, we can’t really hear anything, when everything is screaming.

Recipes

Grandmas Molasses Cookies

Great grandma with the cow’s molasses cookies

There is no molasses cookie that tastes better than grandma’s. It’s nearly a thing of legend in the family…and what more fall feeling is there when these fill the house with cinnamon and clove scents?

The thing that makes these perfect is the slight crust on the outside and the chewy inside, amazing spices and they keep really well (if you can save any). These are different than any other cookie recipe I use but they are perfect everytime, so why change it?

Here is the holy grail of recipes. Great grandma with the cow’s molasses cookie recipe. (Note, when my kids were little they needed a way to sort the grandmas….this is grandma from Montana. Their farm was a place of renewal, acceptance, cows and lots of food.)

Molasses Cookies

  • 1 1/2 c. shortening melted (we use Crisco)
  • 2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c dark molasses (Grandma’s brand is my favorite)

Mix all together until combined. Add 2 eggs and mix well. Careful it’s not too hot from melted shortening, it will cook the eggs.

Mix together:

  • 1 T. + 1 t. baking soda
  • 4 c. flour
  • 1 t. cloves
  • 1 t. ginger
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. salt

Mix all dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined and then chill for an hour.

Roll into balls and place on a cooking sheet, do not smash the balls, they will flatten as they bake. Bake at 350 for ten minutes, transfer to a cooling rack. Enjoy!!

Farm life, Life

Farm Lesson #5: Life Lessons from Chickens

chickens, backyard chickens, raising chickens

When we moved to the farm, my first goal was to get chickens. And let me tell you, I didn’t wait long. The first full weekend after moving to the farm (yes, after 8 days) we marched off to the feed store and picked up our girls and necessary supplies. Seven baby chicks, all laying hens, came home with us, deeming our plot of land a true farm.

Truth is, I had no idea how to raise chickens, so I employed my “fake it, til I make it” approach and with the help of Google and a Backyard Chicken Facebook group, I marched on like a boss. Six months later, we are getting eggs every day and the girls are loving their free range days on the farm. We have curbed the puppy’s tendency to chase chickens and have settled into a happy rhythm. I knew I wanted chickens, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I love having chickens.

Chickens are funny – endlessly entertaining to me. They run to me everytime I come outside, they follow me around like a little pack of fans and they just want to be close. They are loyal and forgiving. Relational and stick together. They are hard working and explorers. They get scared, fuss and flap for a second and then move on without memory. They can be counted on. Seems we have a lot to learn from a chicken.

backyard chickens

I am so blessed to have a band of girls on our farm. ❤❤❤ If you are ever feeling low, come visit, the girls will be happy to cheer you up.

Life

Maybe I’m the problem with the church?

Bob Goff, Everybody Always

Our world feels like a mess. Media, social media and news feeds are full of negativity, hatred, disasters, political attacks, violations, biting and hateful sarcasm, angry reactions, of argument after argument. There are so many arguments.

There are also a lot of good things, cries for help, positive support, expressions of compassion, fundraising for others, prayers offered, cute goat photos ❤. There is so much good going on…and I like to believe I am part of that.

I am compassionate by nature. Pretty nice most of the time. I am the first to say I hope, wish, want and will ______. Yes, God, that’s good…oh amen, we should feed the hungry, minister to the broken hearted, take care of the orphans. But you meant, sweet, clean little Martha from church, right? What about when it’s the homeless guy, or drug addict, or down and out, or the jerk behind us, the person we don’t like the smell of? Or when your elderly relative needs a ride, their bathroom cleaned or makes up excuses to see someone because they are lonely?

But here’s the thing, often I do go clean the bathroom (and oh by the way, I’m a germ phobe), but grumble about it and then say, “no, it’s not a hassle,” when they pick up on my spirit or see me washing my hands for the 10th time, making them feel ashamed. Just a guess, but that probably isn’t what God meant. I know people who hate christians, the church and maybe God himself because so many of us (like how I included you all?) have lived agreeing with, but not really doing God’s work. Oh I’ll be the first to say I don’t like inauthenticity, even hold my pastors and church leaders to task over this (inside voice of course), but somehow I have a kinder scale for myself. I mean, they should love everyone, right? That is their job. But, guess what? It’s my job too and people see right through that kind of hypocrisy. I’m why they hate christians and the church, like it or not. I just threw up in my mouth (TUIMM).

I can send a check, share a fundraiser or post, make a heartfelt comment, give away stuff I didn’t want anyway, throw a 10 second prayer at it, even serve or say I wish something was different and allow self-righteous pride to make me feel good about it. Ha! I have even had the thought, God my part is to support those who do that work. And lucky for me, I have a daughter who is a missionary, so it’s real easy to agree. So glad, I’m not part of the problem. TUIMM again.

Whether my doing something about it is taking time to listen to someone, research and vote, care or become part of a solution for the very thing I am complaining about, I have so much good to give. I can share, give, support, connect, fund, serve, help or march. I can be available, not get easily offended, believe and love others, demonstrate love through service, create, build, honor and respect. I can be a force of true goodness and grace, acceptance and of practical love when needing a coat or food or the bathroom cleaned.

I know there is so much need in our world, neighborhood and in our families. I have to believe if we truly begin to DO what God has said and not just smugly agree from our pew or armchair, oh what a beautiful world this can be. I am so grateful for grace that forgives our shame and sin and helps us become who we are supposed to be.

Have grace dear ones. Be grace. Let’s DO this work…let’s change the world!

Farm life, Recipes

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

recipe for sweet potatoes
Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Sweet potatoes have basically been relegated to a Thanksgiving cameo once a year….and I never am the one who makes them or puts them on my plate. Convinced I didn’t like them, or maybe it was the marshmallow smother (gag), I have lived a happy, sweet potatoe free life. Until now.

My daughter, who lived in Mexico for a couple of years, taught me redemptive grace for the oh-so-good-for-you-vegetable. Packed with vitamin A, potassium and fiber, they are a great, low-fat partner in health. In fact, I’m going to plant them in my garden next year – now that is full vegetable salvation!

This recipe is simple (10 mins to prep), delicious as a side dish to chicken or pork, or as a meal in itself. It is gluten-free, sugar-free, can be made vegan, and would also be great for toddlers and kids. Let’s hear it for a vegetable win … and a little swagger on the GF/vegan status too!

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

This recipe makes about 4 medium servings but can be scaled up or down easily.

  • 2 sweet potatoes (peeled) and 2 apples (not peeled) cut into cubes (I do about 1/2 inch bites). Firm varieties of apples work best like honeycrisp or pinks, but any kind can work. The softer apples will just be a bit mushy, but still taste amazing. Also, on apples, the sour types like granny smiths might be a little tart since there is no sugar, but make it your way, you can always add a little honey to sweeten if that is the apples you have.
  • Mix in 1/2 c of dried cranberries
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon (about 1 T) and mix
  • Place all in a greased casserole pan or a lined baking sheet. I use a little butter to grease, but coconut oil works too for you vegans or really conscientious – extra points for less fat! I’m not all Paula Deen level, but I do love me some butter.
  • Dot the mixture with 2 T butter* cut into small cubes. *See note above about butter and swap out with coconut oil if you prefer.
  • Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup nuts. I like pistachios or pumpkin seeds, but use what you have on hand. It adds a nice texture and crunch, plus some bonus protein.

Bake at 375 until potatoes are soft when poked with a fork, about 30-40 minutes.

You can make a big batch and use the extras for leftovers. They are great for lunch, transport well, reheat well and last a week or so in the refrigerator. I cook it year round but it has all the fall feels for sure. A Thanksgiving party in your mouth, minus the marshmallows!

Enjoy.

Farm life, Recipes

Pears are Ready

Pears are new to me. We have a small hybrid tree with Bartlett and two different types of Asian pears on our farm, so I’m especially in learning mode.

I’ll be honest to say the gritty texture has always had me coming in with a “fine” score for pears. But, pears right off the tree are much more tasty. And the frugal side of me that hates to waste was determined to find a way to use them!

I made a homemade pizza with sliced pears, feta and a balsamic reduction, which was really yummy, but used only a couple. So today I got serious and found a recipe on Ball’s website for Honey Cinnamon Pears.  (These were amazing on a salad with feta, toasted pine nuts  and the pears with a viniagrette dressing – yummy!)  I added extra cinnamon to the recipe, which is no surprise, if you know me. There’s always room for more cinnamon.

Also from the Ball website, I made my own version of salted caramel pear butter. The modifications I made was to make a salted caramel sauce first and then just added a little of it into the final reduction of pears to make a sweet and tasty pear butter to spread on a Turkey sandwich or pancakes. This version used much less sugar and I could control how much caramel went in so it did not completely take over the pear taste.

Happy Fall!

Farm life, Life

Confession of a lazy farmer

20180913_1255082800339723616609168.jpg

Late spring and early summer, I was so excited to plant a sunflower row – part of a romantic vision of happy flowers on the farm. This lovely picture is not.my.flowers.

Truth is, I did plant more than 200 sunflowers (and I threw in Shasta daisy and hollyhock seed from my previous garden) across the 300 feet of front fence line of my farm. Two grew. Two….and they only got about 10 inches high, so, there’s that.

I would love to feign shock and alarm, but truth is, although we did some hard work, I didn’t adequately prepare the soil for flowers. I got it dug up enough (by hand mind you) to get seeds in, but figured they would take off from there. Nope lazy farmer. It doesn’t work that way.

So my lesson? There is no shortcut or easy way. If I want a beautiful crop or garden or (fill in the blank)….I have to do the preparation and hard work …for months. Ok, so, there’s next year and mark my words….I will have adorable sunflowers to wave hello at anyone who passes by!

Life, Marketing/PR

Unemployment sucks. A guide to helping folks through it.

unemployment sucks

Three months ago, my job ended. I feel ashamed and embarrassed. I loved the company, the CEO, my team, the work I was doing and completely thought I would retire there. So when I “wasn’t the right fit,” I was shocked, disappointed, and bummed! I mean, I have furniture and rugs in my farm house purchased with award money for doing such great work just a few weeks earlier…I don’t get it.

But let me tell you, unemployment sucks. I’m not good at it either. For instance, to collect unemployment, you have to put in three applications a week, so I do eight and get told I’m spamming the system. Apparently, my over achieving personality makes me get rejected automatically for putting in too many (smh). So, I focus in and really work on 3 special jobs. I literally spend like 4 to 6 hours on each – researching, rewriting my resume with all the key terms that match (you know to get into the automated systems), writing and rewriting pithy cover letters and completing the online application only to get an automated email reply stating they can’t wait to review it, but will only contact if you’re the answer to their dreams. Then crickets.

I try remote, freelancing, job classes from back in the beginning of my career. The only consistent job that keeps coming up is Lyft drivers needed in our area. Oh hey girl, hey…need a ride? Now, don’t get offended, it’s a great, flexible job, but let’s just say I don’t think there are enough hours in the day for me to make the salary I need.

So in all honesty, here’s the truth of where I am at in this unemployment journey and my advice to those not in the journey. Here’s how you can support…or not, you decide. Disclaimer: mom, hubby, close friends and church friends, just work with me here. I’m half jesting and half venting, put down your lecture and rocks. I’ll be ok, promise.

1. Talking about “it”. There are two camps of people, seekers and avoiders. The seeker wants an update, every.single.time….even when there isn’t an update. I love my mom, but do you freaking think I’d not tell you if something came up after nearly four months of this special form of purgatory? Of course there is no update! But thank you for asking (insert sweet smile here). The avoider never asks. Pretends it’s not a thing and if they don’t make eye contact or never sit still, the awkward “it” won’t come up. I’m out of work, not dying or dumb. But thank you for your consideration to my heart.

2. Praying about “it”. I believe in God, I know He has a purpose and plan for me, I am praying and reading every day and most days I am trusting that the right thing will come along. I have sweet, sweet friends and family who are praying for me too and I am so grateful. But, I wouldn’t be honest if I pretended like that was all there was. Sometimes I am not dealing well with it. I’m worried, I’m mad, I feel frustrated and feel a little like I’m stuck in this weird version of Ground Hog Day, except I don’t have a job and I’m not waking up in a hotel. Nope, it’s me and goats, and the dogs, and the chickens in this same day over and over again. Get up, pray, read, look at job boards, look at email, check for requests for interviews, contemplate a lottery ticket. This process is hard and I don’t do “nothing” well. It’s hard, just let it be hard sometimes. It’s ok, I won’t stay there.

3. There, There-ing “it”. I have had an amazing career to date and unbelievable opportunities, teams and companies. I have awesome friends from jobs of the past whom I love dearly. I’m so blessed. But, I have also lost myself and nearly my health in a job, adopted my identity based on what I did at work, lost that identity and had to find a new one and that is jolting. I have done it really wrong and done it really, really right and I usually land on my feet, but it doesn’t come with no sweat off my brow. I know I have talent and mad skills in a variety of scope. Not in a “she’s so fancy, look at me” kind of way, but a confident, I know my stuff. I’m honest and deliver great work, on time and on budget. That’s good, that’s marketable. But I’m shaken. Let me be real for a moment. Don’t there, there me and quiet me so you don’t feel uncomfortable with the truth of where I am. Sometimes I don’t feel like all that and Lord knows the hiring process is not one that builds self-esteem. But, I’m using this time to pause, to learn from my mistakes, to ensure my identity comes from God and NOT my work (look at me go!), to study and stay on top of the market and trends, to volunteer, help my mom, support others and do a few projects. This time is a gift, I know. I know I will wish I had it back when I’m working, but for now, I need to be able to be honest without a “yah, but”. Please, just let me be real.

4. Rushing “it”. I am NOT good with the middle space. I want to rush to the end point – skip the journey and all of it’s great epiphanies to the next step. You know, stay busy, distracted….don’t feel. But there is part of this process that is necessary, so necessary for me. Trust me, I am doing everything in my power to find the right next step for me, but to skip this process and time will skip part of the next success. The lessons I’m learning here will make me better next. And, the answer may not be the next great multi-level marketing solution to save the day that so many sweet and sincere folks have offered. I do buy from a couple of subscription companies, but I do not feel called to build a business with either. So, whether I end up driving for Lyft (hey girl) or running a marketing team again, I know that this process, whether I like it or not, has been essential to grow my faith, my character and my talent set for the next “it”. If I’m not gonna be in another job for a company, I’m gonna find a way to start the farm business I have been dreaming of for years. Insert a miracle here would be just fine with me!

So I jest a bit, but through my sass, please hear that I am so, so grateful to all of my tribe who supports me. Thank you, sincerely for your support through this time.

And seriously, if I have offended you, message me, I’ll see what I can do to restore, but unemployment is not an easy time frame….just hoping for a little grace in the process and that maybe you’ll just giggle with me.