Old and New Trees at the Farm

@->->–  — Written by Emily — –<-<-@

The massive amounts of snow that we got here in Michigan and the April showers that we have been having throughout the month of May have made it too wet to do any planting at the farm so far.

We were able to take the car back to the orchard on a trip several weeks ago which we had loaded down with mulch and new apple trees to replace ones that have come down in recent years or will be coming down in the next few years.  Do you like our homemade deer fencing?  A combination of chicken wire and snow fencing!

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During the winter, a large branch came down from one of our favorite trees in the middle of the yard.  We love this tree and its sister.   We have so many memories of sitting in the swings hanging from its branches with my grandparents in the evenings, listening to nature and watching the fireflies.   

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Even though in recent years these boxelder trees have brought so.many. boxelder bugs that invaded the house and yard each spring, we have avoided cutting them down.  Now nature is finally doing it for us.

In one of the spring storms this year a large branch came down from two pine trees, one on each side of the yard.  

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So in one recent visit we got out the chain saws and hatchets and cleaned up the yard.  In our excitement we decided to tackle the low hanging branches on trees in the front yard getting in the way of the rider mower and getting too close for comfort to the roof of the house. We had so much fun that the following weekend some of us went up again and cut down another branch from one of the boxelder trees that was essentially dead and would have come down in the next big storm anyway.

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We had a huge pile of brush at the end of the day that a nice neighbor came later and burned for us.  We also had a decent pile of wood built up.  

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Being raised in a home with a wood burning it was also nostalgic to see a wall of stacked wood again.  We recently adopted a wood burning stove that was being replaced at a friend’s cottage.  Perhaps once we get it resealed, some of the wood can be put to good use!

@->->–  — Written by Emily — –<-<-@

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Treasure Chests

@->->–  — Written by Emily — –<-<-@

A few months ago I celebrated my grandfather’s birthday by giving blood.  He died several years ago between Valentine’s Day and his birthday.  Preparing for his funeral, my grandmother told me they had spent Valentine’s Day reading all the cards they had given each other on Valentine’s Days of old.  Both octogenarians, that must have taken quite a while!

In the years that passed I have always wondered (but haven’t yet asked) how my grandmother (a smart lady – admittedly) managed to keep those cards intact AND together over the years.  My grandparents had two kids and both worked – just like us and yet mixed in the piles of clutter that are all.over.my.house, were precious cards and mementos, getting separated from each other, lost or destroyed.

This year for Valentine’s Day, I bought what my daughter calls a “Treasure Chest” (from an end display in the stationary section of our grocery store) to accompany similar memento boxes I had bought earlier for the kids but hadn’t filled.  In the weeks that followed, while getting ready to file our taxes and searching for receipts etc, we uncovered a lot of “treasure” and today I cleaned off the piano enough to display the treasure chests front and center in our living room.

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The children’s boxes contain hospital bracelets, locks of hair, baby shower and baptism cards etc.  The treasure chest in the middle contains all the Christmas cards, birthday cards and Valentine’s cards Franz and I have exchanged over the years and the one’s our kids have since given us.

Now, someday when we are in our 80′s and need to read all of our cards to each other, I will know exactly where to find them and they will have weathered the years no worse than we.

@->->–  — Written by Emily — –<-<-@

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Minimal Makeup Routine

{Eva}

This post first appeared on my personal blog, Humblebee Home.

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Ok kids, today I’m going to talk at you about how to look your best. I am seriously under qualified to do so, but whatever.

Our concept of beauty is based around stereotypical signs of good health, such as clear, radiant skin and shiny, thick hair. So it follows that if you want to be beautiful, all you have to do is be healthy.

1. Get enough sleep.
They don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing. Just clear your schedule and sleep off those under-eye circles.

2. Eat nutritious food.
Open your wallet and buy the good stuff, then clear your schedule and cook it, savoring every moment of the food experience. Your body will thank you for not poisoning it with Nutella anymore!

3. Drink a half-gallon of water a day.
Clear your schedule, because you are going to do a lot of peeing. That’s how the toxins get flushed out of your body, you know.

4. Steer clear of caffeine and alcohol.
Your body doesn’t need that delicious, life-giving poison.

5. Exercise 
Clear your schedule, because you need at least a half-hour a day of being sweaty and uncomfortable in order to look your best.

So there you have it! Five quick and easy ways looking great. It is SO simple–I really don’t understand why more people don’t do it.

Ha ha, just kidding! Please don’t kick me.

That stuff isn’t simple or easy at this point in my life, and I bet it’s not for you either. We’re adults with adult responsibilities, and while it goes without saying that we should all work hard to take care of ourselves, sometimes it just ain’t gonna happen.

So the only thing to do is to fake it til you make it, right?

I would “fake it” like most people do by wearing makeup…except I’ve never really been comfortable wearing it. It was verboten to me until I was in my late teens and I never got used to it. I like the idea of makeup, but if I wear anything more than the bare minimum (mascara and maybe some under-eye concealer) I get super self-conscious. Something I have learned over my adult life is that if you can’t wear it with confidence, it’s working against you.

Also, putting on makeup while toddlers are fighting over which one of your ankles they get to cling to is not ideal. 

So, with extensive makeup off the table, I had to learn to fake good health by other means.

Drumroll, please. Here are my real 5 favorite ways to make it look like I’m making an effort without actually going through the trouble of putting on makeup.

{I don’t actually use the particular brands shown in the graphic, because I buy the offest off-brands. Always.}

 

{1}

I recently saw this post over at In Honor of Design about how to grow your eyelashes naturally. The title was intriguing because hey, we all want longer, thicker lashes, don’t we? I was expecting a manifesto about the benefits of a South American berry, but the answer was surprisingly mundane: Hair, Skin, and Nails dietary supplements. The active ingredient is biotin, a B-vitamin that is necessary for cell growth. Wikipedia stated that the research regarding biotin’s effect on hair growth is a bit murky, but it also stated that biotin is thought to help regulate blood sugar. That would be awesome because I am allllways on a blood sugar roller coaster.

Anyway, I figured it couldn’t hurt so I got me some off-brand supplements at Kroger and waited for my long, gorgeous lashes to grow in. Alas, I’m not seeing much improvement (yet?) but my skin is in its heyday right now. It’s pretty awesome.

{2}

Remember in the 90s when no one had eyebrows? I was the worst of them. I cringe when I look at prom pictures and see my poor naked face. Thank goodness that full eyebrows are back in. I hope they get to stay for a while.

But in order to pull off the no-makeup look, I simply can’t allow my eyebrows to fulfill their Gandalfian aspirations. Full, YES. “Long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat”, NO. Hence the tweezers.

When my mom visited us a few months ago she left behind a magnifying mirror that I never mailed back to her because it made the whole depilation process so much easier. Sorry, mom. I’ll buy it from you.

{3}

By a show of hands, who else is rocking the bleary-eyed “I pulled an all-nighter” look? Hmmm, lots of you. I thought so.

There are lots of products that “brighten your eyes” but since eye makeup tends to make my eyes red and irritated, I prefer to actually brighten my eyes. Eye drops: they’ll make you look like a bright-eyed teenager.

{4}

 Don’t let the toothbrush fool you: this isn’t about dental hygiene (although that is a very important aspect of any beauty regimen, but I hope you already knew that). #4 is here to talk to you about exfoliating your lips. Here’s a wikihow article showing 4 methods of lip exfoliation, but I am too lazy to make a sugar scrub so I just brush my lips a bit with my toothbrush every morning. A couple of scrubs takes away all the dead skin and improves the blood flow to the area, which means they will plump up a bit and have better color. It’s like lipstick but…not.

{5}

I have lately started utilizing the age-old beauty trick of misdirection. I’ve started wearing earrings a lot more than I used to because when people see me I want them to think, “oooh, shiny!” rather than, “omg, does she have a wasting disease?”
(p.s. I don’t actually own those earrings, but I want to.)

***

I’m not swearing off makeup; far from it. Someday I hope to pull off a full rockabilly look.  But on those days when, for whatever reason, putting on the ole’ concealer and lip gloss seams like too much of a hassle, this regimen gives me the confidence to say, eh, screw it. Not putting on makeup today.

Frizzy, bare-faced, and loving it.

Seed Inventory – FREE printable!

@->->–  — Written by Emily — –<-<-@

Our Farm has been a Tundra since Thanksgiving.  Normally, in February we would be up there every weekend pruning the orchard.  This year between the polar vortex and Franz having class most Friday evenings and all day the following Saturdays we have only made it up there once this winter.  Franz walked back to the orchard to see if pruning would be possible.  As long as he stuck to the deer trail he was fine, but as soon as he stepped off the packed snow he sunk into the snow up to his thigh and he is 6 foot tall! 

Needless to say, no pruning was done this winter.  But, because we needed to do something that gave us hope for spring we took a seed inventory of everything up there and organized it into a spreadsheet so we know what seeds we will have to bulk up on before planting as well as easily reference which seeds we can start indoors and when.

seedsWe did a LOT of canning last year and have been giving lots of it away and still have produce in the freezer yet to can.  We have been getting a lot of questions regarding GMO versus non-GMO seeds and what if any chemicals we used.  We always strive to be as organic as possible, taking into consideration we can only tend the garden a few hours one day a week, since we both work and live in the city.  Last year we did not have a handy spreadsheet like this. 

Seed Inventory Picture

You can see we tracked plant, variety, brand, notes and approximate amount.  After that section we have columns April – October and tracked planting and harvesting activity for each plant according to our time zone, according to the following legend that we created.

Direct Sow D
Start Indoors I
Plant P
Harvest X

This year we will know what plants came from what seeds etc.  We hope to improve tracking of seeds and treatments each year to share with our family and friends that we bequeath produce and canned farm food.

We shared the spreadsheet with my dad who explained that the re-purposed mayo jars of bean seeds came from my grandpa’s family farm in the North Carolina.  This year we hope to learn more about seed saving so we can save the seeds from those plants before the supply is spent.

Dad also turned the water back on for the season this past weekend on his trip up, for which I am grateful.  One trip up this winter where we had to haul water in buckets from the well to flush the toilet and wash our hands was enough for me!

@->->–  — Written by Emily — –<-<-@

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Printers and Providence

@->->–  — Written by Emily — –<-<-@

Sorry for my absence over the last couple of weeks.  Life has been extremely chaotic for the past 6 months or so since I have been recruiting with a local staffing agency as an independent contractor after getting laid off last fall.  I knew it would be very long hours and very little/sporadic pay until I could get to a point where commissions and bonuses were coming in at a constant rate.  I hope for that to start happening by the end of next month.  My logic is that even if it doesn’t happen I am continuing to grow a valuable skill in my profession while continuing to look for a permanent work home.

The pay has been so little that I have given up on budgeting for the moment.  I find it hard to do when there literally isn’t enough money to make ends meet right now.  I try not to think about it and focus on my work and pray it will all come together somehow.  I hope it happens while Franz and I are young enough to still live out some of our dreams and before our kids get old enough to really feel how tight things are.

With 7 years of school about to wrap up for Franz and our daughter about to start kindergarten, I really hope 2014 is our year.

A couple Saturdays ago I was scheduled to give a talk at local club for unemployed on do’s and don’ts for the unemployed and employed alike and when I went to print my handouts that morning the printer spat them out at a rate of literally 1 page every 10 minutes.  I got one set printed before running to the meeting,hoping there was a copier on site and the other speaker was covering for me.  (They did and he was)

After a few weeks of fiddling with the printer and researching the problem on forums we decided the printer I have had since my first year of college nearly 15 years ago (oh my GOD am I really that OLD?) needed to be replaced.  We found this on sale for just over $100 at our local store and grabbed it:

 

We didn’t have the cash for it, we put it on the credit card – and yes I cringed writing that.  After years of being cash only I HATE that we have to put things on credit again and hope that April’s income goes as forecasted so we can go back to budgets and envelopes.

In a recent conversation with my manager I discussed having put my resume-writing business on hold while working with him.  Although I had never signed any non-competes or other paperwork indicating I could not, because of the nature of my manager’s business, I felt it was a conflict of interest.  I came out of that conversation with his blessing to continue my own work.

The night after we set up our new printer I got a call from a stranger with an interview the next morning and a request from the recruiter he was working with to turn his functional resume into a chronological resume.  Not in a line of work that requires a lot of computer savviness, he brought me his functional resume (previously written by a professional) and 4 pages of notes he typed up for me on his career history. 

Four hours later he had exactly what he needed and I had exactly what I needed to pay for the printer after setting aside money for taxes.

 How is THAT for Providence??? Hopefully a sign that things will be turning around for us – one way or the other – in April.

@->->–  — Written by Emily — –<-<-@

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