Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Improvise

 Lily was chasing butterflies in the garden the other day. 


She didn't have a butterfly net, so she picked up the pool skimmer and away she went. 
I started thinking about my goal of being more content.
How often do I think I need something that is perfect, polished, and the essence of Martha Stewart perfection?  I'll admit...I am so guilty of wanting the "the best" when it comes to kitchen tools, home decor, clothing, achieving certain goals....you get the picture. But really, when you really think about it, how often are those things truly necessary? 


Not very often.

The Lord has really been pressing on my heart to improvise when needed and not compromise the outcome.
Using the pool skimmer did not in any way hamper Lily's joy in catching a butterfly.
In fact, it worked even better because she could reach farther with that long pole:).

We don't have a lot of things, but what we do have works.
 It just plain works....somehow.
The key to contentment is recognizing that it is OK not to have every little thing that might make you look good on the outside. Letting the joy of knowing Christ and being thankful for what you have touches others in a much more powerful way. 
I think too often we overlook that what we have is enough. If we turn to the Lord and ask Him for what we need, He ALWAYS provides. 
I tend to forget that.

 Last week, I prayed that we could have a little cash flow from hay sales come in.
 With the recession, we have had a decline in customers. Horses are an expensive hobby:).
 I prayed this time with the confidence that Jesus was going to answer. 
And do you know what?
 We sold more hay last week than we have all summer!
I am always amazed at the blessings bestowed upon us.

So this week I am improvising...not compromising!

I bought three boxes of peaches over a week ago and have NOT been able to can! They are getting too soft, which troubles me to the core, but I will make jam today.
 Lots of it. 
Nobody will be upset that there are a gazillion jars of peach deliciousness in the pantry, and I am definitely not compromising on quality. 
We will have it on toast, pancakes, and ice cream through the Winter.
Yummers:).
*
*
*
Here are two verses that have really spoken to me.
I think they sum up quite nicely what we are supposed to do in this life:).

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
James 1:22

Isn't that the best?

Hope you have a lovely day! 
We are getting ready for some FUN days at the Fair and I hope to have pictures to show soon:).

~Julia  


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cowboy Hash...Using Up Zucchini!

Cowboy Hash


I have had this recipe for years now and it is a staple in our home. 
You can whip it up in less than an hour and best of all it calls for zucchini!
Something I have plenty of in my garden.
I think I have shredded and frozen 50 million quarts of it:)!!
I am always grateful for a recipe that includes this delicious vegetable.


This is so easy to make and an absolute crowd pleaser. 
My kids love it and we usually serve it with crusty french bread or rolls, and a fresh garden salad. 
You can either make it in a pot on the stove or transfer it and bake it in the oven. 
It also freezes really well!
Here is the recipe...




1 lb. ground beef
1/2c. chopped onion
1 {1 1/4 oz.} pkg. taco seasoning
1 1/2c. water
1 1/2c. thinly sliced zucchini
1c. frozen corn
1 {14.5oz} can stewed tomatoes
1 1/2c. uncooked instant rice
1c. shredded cheddar cheese


In a large pot, brown beef and onion. Drain. Stir in remaining ingredients, except rice and cheese. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 8 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Fluff. Add cheese to top, cover and let stand 3 minutes. 




* I like to fluff, then transfer everything into a baking dish, top with cheese, and then bake {uncovered} for about 7 minutes at 350 degrees. You can also just wrap and freeze at this point. Either way, it tastes great. 


Hope you enjoy this hearty meal...perfect for crisp Fall days:).


~Julia




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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rodeo Days

We live in a town that hosts one of the top 10 rodeos in the U.S. 
This is a really fun time of the year for the whole town.
 It is bursting at the seams with excitement and people from all over.
Our boys are showing their pigs this year in 4-H and will be a big part of the Fair going on at the same time as the rodeo.
 I love small town life. 
They are excited and have been working so diligently with their pigs...Hamilton, Oreo, Tuffy, and my personal favorite... Doris.
 She is quite the piggie.



The boys have spent hours with their pigs and they are all so tame. 



Don't worry....the little white plastic stick is to gently tap on their shoulders to tell them to go left or right:). No one gets hurt!


OK...I know they are tame, but I am not sure you are supposed to do this:).
Oreo is sturdy enough...it is quite the ride.


Hamilton will lay on his back for you to scratch his tummy.
 I was so impressed that the pigs are gentle and friendly. It has been a fun project this year and I am so looking forward to them showing and selling their pigs. 




The kids will have to be at the fairgrounds 6am-9pm everyday...6 days total.
 Irrigating and other animal chores are still going on, so that means some of us will be up at 4:30 am all week. Whew! 
The whole town participates in buying from the kids to support 4-H. 
The auction is intense and fun all at the same time and the kids really make quite a bit of money. 
Will is hoping to buy a larger motorcycle and put a little in savings.
 Tim is buying another cow. 
That kid is bound and determined to have quite the herd by the time he is a teenager:).

I made Lily a little jacket for the cooler evenings a little while ago for our week at the fairgrounds. 
She loves to ride our pony, Chip, and is quite a little cowgirl. 
We thought a rodeo theme was in order.  




The pattern is from Burda and was fairly easy to sew. My sister made one for her shop and left out the elastic at the wrist.
 I copied her idea and liked how it looked rolled at the cuff.
 It is really warm and comfortable. 



The fabric is a linen blend from a local store and the liner is a nice flannel from Joann's Fabrics. 
It wears so well and washes beautifully.
 Lily loves it:).






Hope you have a wonderful day!

~Julia


PS: I have had a request for a pattern number:). The jacket is from Burda #9567. Hope that helps and thanks for all of your sweet comments:)!!



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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back Country Drive

Remember my sweet sister, Charity? 
She posted a couple of weeks ago about a darling dress she made my niece out of bed sheets. 
She has more talent in her little pinky finger than anyone I know!
She is currently phasing out of her business, Cottage Cowgirl, and moving into a new venture this Fall. Her workmanship is impeccable and she has created some of the most beautiful little dresses with a cowgirl theme.

Well, this is your lucky day! Charity has started a new blog to share some of her many talents and in celebration is giving away a beautiful little girl's dress or skirt.


Pop on over to Back Country Drive to enter.
Your chances are good...really good:)!

~Julia

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Make a Canning Jar Soap Dispenser


I fell in love with this idea the minute I saw it... 


Canning jar soap dispensers are a fun and easy gift or useful item to make!
I have used our pump everyday for over a year now and it has held up beautifully.
That is saying a lot when you have four kids and a farmer husband.

I picked up the jar for 50 cents and a lid for $2 at a tag sale...so the whole project was really economical.




If you are interested in purchasing the antique zinc lids and blue Ball canning jars, Ebay or Craigslist are a great place to search.
I typed in "zinc canning jar lids" on Ebay and there were so many available for a reasonable price!
The same was true when I searched under "blue Ball canning jars."
 I loved that there were so many different sized blue jars! 
Tags sales are also a good avenue.
If you find it too pricey to get your hands on zinc lids, ANY canning jar lid will do!!
The lids and rings, as well as the plastic lids are great!

The pump is from a bottle of Suave lotion. It was the perfect zinc color.
You can also buy pumps from a craft supply store or online HERE.
I like to use what I have on hand, so the pump from the Suave lotion is perfect:).
To clean the pump out, just put it in a jar of warm soapy water and pump away until it is clean.






To make the soap/lotion dispenser:

 Measure the width of the top portion of your pump... the part with the spring in it.
Mine measured 1.5cm wide.


 Mark the center of your lid {on the top} with a small dot.




 The inside of the lid has a ceramic underside. You will need to remove it.



To do this, place the lid right side up with the ceramic side down on a hard surface.
Using a nail, or thin screw driver, tap a hole through the top....right on your mark.
This way, the ceramic is face down and will not shatter in your face:).






After you make the hole, this is what the underside will look like...




To remove the ceramic cap, I try to just tap it really hard right side up.
Most of the time, it will just fall out. If it won't budge, use protective gloves and remove it manually.
Be careful! You are dealing with sharp objects:).

Next, you will want to make a mark on the underside to use as a guide for your hole to put the pump in.
I {roughly} measure 1.5 cm in an "X" pattern to give me my dimensions.



Using needle nose pliers, slowly start to peel back the zinc. It is a light metal and easily bendable.
Remember, you are not going for perfection....just a hole big enough to fit the pump in.
It doesn't need to be perfectly round!
It is better to be on the snug side, as a hole too big will make the pump tend to be a bit floppy.
So, err on the side of being too small, test your pump as you go.
It is so easy to make the hole a little bigger!



 When the hole is sufficient to hold the pump, crimp the remaining tin back flat with your pliers so there are no sharp edges.
At this point, you have the option of sealing your lid with a clear polyurethane so that it won't corrode.
{Thanks Jody for the tip!!}
Make sure it is completely dry before inserting the pump:).





Now, insert the pump. It should be nice and snug and the top will cover the hole nicely.





Now to glue it in place.
I use my good old hot glue gun.
There are probably other great alternatives out there, but so far hot glue has held up wonderfully!
I tried Gorilla Glue once and it was a mistake for this project. So, if you are wanting to try something other than hot glue, just look for a waterproof product that dries quickly and doesn't expand.

Making sure the pump is firmly in place, first glue right along the base of the pump to the underside of the lid.


Next, add a little more glue to the pump... adhering a little more to the underside.
You want it to have a good base to hold it securely in place.


Let it dry thoroughly.
Last, you will need to trim off a small amount from the straw portion of the pump.
Insert it into the jar and estimate about how much needs to come off.
I like the bottom of the straw to be about 1/4 of an inch from the base of the jar.
Measure your straw and then measure the height of the jar to the rim.
This will help you determine where to cut.
I cut off about 1/2 inch of the Suave Lotion pump and had a quart sized jar.


Screw on the lid and whalaa!
You are finished....now wasn't that easy?


The dispensers are great gifts for birthdays, Christmas, hostess gifts, or just to use in your own home!
They pair really well with handmade dish towels:). 


Any canning jar will do. 
I personally have a clear jar as well as the antique blue version and both look beautiful!

Here is another example from Heather Bullard....
http://heatherbullard.typepad.com/heather_bullard_collectio/2010/02/diy-mason-jar-soap-dispenser.html




You can fill your jar with soap {or lotion}. I use mine in the bathroom and by the kitchen sink. I really like a clear soap. Costco's environmentally safe dish soap is wonderful and the scent is delicious!




The soap lasts forever and you have to fill it up so infrequently. 
With four kids and a farm we do a lot of hand washing around here:). 


Have a great day!


~Julia

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Antique Show...

Today was such a perfect day for browsing amongst the lovely things...



I can't tell you how fun it was...and oh the things that caught my eye...
























Aren't those the sweetest pillow case dresses?


I loved these patchwork chenille baby blankets made by a group of church ladies.



I was a good girl and stuck to my budget.
I was on the lookout for a couple of things to use for Christmas presents and found them for a great price!


Blue canning jars and zinc lids.
I'll show you what I am doing with them soon:).
I also found extra lids.



Clayson Farm was so picturesque.
It was packed...there must have been 500 people there! 
Look at the darling porch ideas...





This little lunch box would have been perfect for Sis on homeschool field trips:).


I have been eyeballing old laundry hampers for some time. Don't you love the liner?




There were lots of neat beds.



And grain sack pillows...oh the soft, sturdy feel of the fabrics is so wonderful!




I decided I need to make one of these runners:).




It was such a fun day. Hope you enjoyed all of the pictures:).

~Julia

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