Barn Love

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Oodles of Zoodles

Vegetables becoming noodles is a pretty big deal these days. So, naturally, I had to jump on that bandwagon.  I was intrigued when friends of ours started doing mason jar salads. My mother in law got me one of these and a recipe book from the library and told me to have at it! Well...  the book didn't have pictures, so I just had to turn to my good buddy Pinterest to see what I could scrounge up.

I made this recipe from the guru over at Damn Delicious. Of course I tweaked a few things, I didn't add the parsley leaves because we don't like them and I only added the juice from half of a lemon because i didn't want to use a whole lemon because I've also jumped on the bandwagon of the infused water.  Boy that was a long sentence..

Kind of like these long noodles!

The Veggetti was super duper easy to use.  You just pick which side you want to use based on whether you want thick or thin slices, prep the veggie and twist.  I found that it worked better with a bit of pressure, otherwise the noodles came out shorter. With pressure they were longer and well, more noodle like.

I also wondered where the seeds were going, and as it turns out they went into the opposite end of the utensil. Pretty cool.  It also left this interesting scrap, if you will.  Perhaps the makers of the Veggetti are also secretly the designers of Madonna's bras in the '80s.

I would absolutely use it again, with a few lessons in my back pocket.  First, you have to have the right size veggie to twist. So yes, in this case, size DOES matter.  I bought 3 medium sized zucchini and they worked perfectly.  I had a larger one left over from another dish and it wouldn't fit even after I cut them.   Second, cut the noodles before you cook them - I didn't think that they were "that long", but wound up cutting them after I put them in the pot. The instructions said to cut them, but who uses directions when you obviously know better than the people that made the utensil.

Besides, doesn't this dish look wonderful?! It was really delicious. The zoodles turned out similar to spaghetti noodles but with a bit of a crunch. This was perfect for us because we like our noodles a little al dente. We both like the taste of zucchini and you honestly couldn't taste it - it took on the flavor of the scampi broth.  Really the only hint that they weren't real noodles was their color.

So, to all of those that have been on the fence about trying one of these spiraling gadgets, I say GO FOR IT!  Now I can't wait until the garden is planted and the zucchini are plentiful!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Coloring My World...

Painting is like the job that never ends. I'm sure that Jeff will agree, but I feel like I've been seeing paint chips, paint brushes and paint rollers in my sleep.

Holy Toledo, what a job! We have spent countless hours painting our house so far. Between picking out colors, priming, ceiling painting, then putting two coats of color, it has truly been a labor of much love and a whole lot of color!!

We flirted with the idea of hiring a painter - but the cheapest price we could find for a painter was $0.70 per square foot and at 10,000 square feet of drywall, we knew that it was way out of our budget to hire a painter AND pay for paint. At this point in the game we have already spent $1800 in just the paint and supplies.

Speaking of paying for paint, we have to give a huge shout out to Sherwin Williams. Yes, their paint is expensive - but did you know that if you open a contractor's account (which they let us do because of the amount of paint we would be purchasing) that you can get a significant discount on supplies? We were able to get their best quality paint for around $32 per gallon. Which actually wound up being cheaper than the home improvement store where they wear orange aprons.

The employees at Sherwin Williams were also incredibly knowledgable. Jeff and I asked a ton of questions - and they even were helpful when it came to which colors went well together. They also gave me two different color pallets to look through, but I think that gave me entirely too many choices. They also have a pretty cool app called Color Snap where you can choose a photo from your device and then paint the picture with any of their colors. I used this feature, and it helped me rule out some choices.

Enough about Sherwin Williams and how much of a sucky job painting is - ON TO THE COLOR!!

While we started painting color, our dads chipped in and helped us paint the loft, ceilings, and the garage.

After what seemed like years of priming, we moved on to color, and the first room that we painted was the laundry room.

This is a little out of the box, but I LOVE it.  I said all along that the laundry room was going to be my fun room and these colors give it a great start.

The colors are Synergy and Mélange Green.

Then we moved on to Kooper's room. He wanted a color like a New Holland Tractor - which, for those of you that don't have children obsessed with tractors, that's a bright royal blue. Not a bad color, but not a color that I want in a bedroom. The name of the color that HE picked was Hyper Blue. I hate to judge a book by it's cover, but Mama wasn't having that.  So.. we (I) decided on a nice little color called Santorini Blue. It's perfect for him and I think that we will get some milage out of the color as well.

We decided to make Kooper's bathroom a different shade of blue and take on a more nautical theme to everything in there. His bathroom color is called Open Seas. It's very cute, and plays really well with the floor and the vanity.

Next up, was the Powder Room. That's a nice little color called Reflecting Pool.

The Loft color is Lagoon.  Originally I intended on making the loft two colors. Lagoon on three walls and Latte on the wall that went down the steps. After some thought and a few other opinions we decided to make the whole loft Lagoon.

The Mudroom is Latte. A little dark for a room that doesn't get any natural light, but I still like it. Hopefully it will be a color that camouflages a lot of dirt!

The space that isn't painted is where the shower head will be. That will be tile of some sort, but we haven't gotten there quite yet.

The Master Suite is two different colors. Three of the walls in our room are Sand Beach and the exterior wall and in to the bathroom is a color called Cloudburst.



Originally we were going to leave the spare room just primed. We went around and around about this one. In the end we decided to match it (as close as we could without pulling the stuff out) to Kooper's nursery. If we have another baby, that would be his or her room - we both loved Koop's nursery, so we figured, why not? And, if there is never another baby, at least we like the color.

The great room, hallway and entry way were challenges. You can see all three depending on where you are in the rooms, and I had cabinet and flooring colors to contend with.

I knew that I wanted Gray. Little did I know that there would be 50 shades of gray to choose from. (ha, you see what I did there?)

After testing out Sea Salt, Comfort Gray, and Oyster Bay on the walls, I decided on Comfort Gray for the Great Room and Sea Salt down the hallway.  All three are consecutive on a swatch, with Sea Salt being the lightest and Oyster Bay the darkest. I ruled out Oyster Bay because it was too dark.

Then we have the hallway - which, for after as much time and thought that we, I put into the color there really isn't a nickel's worth of difference in the two to the naked eye. Can you say frustrating?

See for yourself:

I saved the Foyer for last.. mainly because I had no idea which color to put in there. I wanted a little bit of color from the gray, but didn't want something too dark because the mudroom is off to the left.

We decided on a color called Calico. In some lights it looks dark gray, sometimes blue, which is interesting, but fun.

So, there you have it...  13 colors over 10 different spaces.  It's a lot of blue, I know.. but I think that it all flows really well and gives a nice and relaxing feel to the house and our space.

Hope that you are enjoying the colors as much as we are!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

6 Month Checkup

It's January, and that means that we have officially hit the six month mark of remodeling our house. In some ways it doesn't seem like it has been that long, and then in others it seems as though it has been six years!

Lots of things have happened since my last house update. We processed our first batch of turkeys, and also managed to survive the holidays. Go us! Oh, and did I mention I was also featured on the Huffington Post twice?  I even had an offer to be quoted in Good Housekeeping, but wasn't timely enough with my response. But, I digress...

The house has really changed since my last update. The last time I wrote about our electric being installed - which was a huge step. In order to go any further with insulation, drywall, paint, flooring, etc. we had to get our heat up and running. That is finished, and our system is pretty neat - I'm just excited because it tells me the outside temp as well as the inside temp. Jeff is excited because now (so he thinks) I won't always ask him "what's the temp outside?"

Since we now have heat, we were able to install the garage doors. They aren't completely finished yet, as they still need the handles, and some tweaking, but most of the work is done.

We chose a carriage house style door and the windows match the style on the front door of the house. The barn lights are new too, they are a little smallish, but we won't need a ton of light since the front door is to the immediate left. If the garage was further away we would definitely need more light.

The door installation helped with the heating situation for the drywall. Even with the doors being up and the heat being on, the crew still needed propane heaters to insure that the drywall mud dried properly.

When the drywall was delivered, it went right in the loft window and through the front door. Cool, huh?

The crew was able to install the drywall in one day, and then came back to mud the next day. This happened the day before Thanksgiving, so the holiday put the sanding part of it on hold.

This is what will eventually be the kitchen area. The door is for my pantry, and you can see the plumbing for the kitchen sink - as well as the 12ft. ceiling.

When they did come back to sand, boy oh boy was it a huge mess!! There were days of vacuuming involved to get the place "dust free".

When the majority of the dust was cleared out, we were free to paint. We thought that painting would be so much fun, when in reality, painting sucks folks. Jeff started the priming brigade and worked a little each night - we also spent just about one entire weekend priming and another whole night to finish. When it was all said and done we went through about 25 gallons of primer.

Jeff got ceiling duty, while I got 'low to the floor" duty. He didn't tell me until our last room that he had a knee pad. Yeah, let's just say that I had sore knees and leave it at that.

We also put the little man to work in one of the closets - that lasted about 5 minutes.

Then I was left to the task of picking out paint colors. Who knew that Sherwin Williams has over 8,000 colors?!

Since we are still in the process of picking out colors and painting, I'll leave off here. Next segment will include the painted rooms and info about the colors.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

How a Santa Statue and a Disney Cartoon Helped Save Christmas

No, really, it's true.  A wooden Santa Claus statue and a Disney cartoon called Doc McStuffins made me realize that my son really does believe in Santa.

In case you missed it, I mentioned in my post about The Elf on the Shelf that I was pretty convinced that my son didn't believe in the man in the big red suit.

My son just doesn't seem to get excited about him coming like the other kids do.  In fact, we haven't even been to sit on his lap and have his picture taken. We've asked, but he's avoided it like the plague. We still mention it, but have never used Santa as leverage for his behavior. After all, he's just a little guy, and we have to have some fun!

My husband and I went on an impromptu out of town trip last week and we ran with the opportunity to tell our son that we went to Santa's workshop. We really made it sound awesome - basically told him that Santa had a workshop for everything that we could think of on his list - which more or less consists of model sized tractors and farm equipment.  My hubby and I even went as far as to bring back an ornament for the tree as a gift for him from Santa.

Of course he wanted to know why we spoke to Santa. He even seemed to be a little put off by it. His attitude was one of why do you keep telling me about this man who clearly doesn't exist? Though every now and then he would seem genuinely intrigued about the workshop and wanted to hear more.

Up until two days ago we kept up the facade that Santa is in fact real, even if we weren't sure what our son thought. I mean, the more we play it up, the more he'll want to believe it too, right?

In this case...  right!

For the last week or so, my mother in law (who we are living with during our house remodel) has been leaving little gifts on my son's bed at night. A stuffed Santa, a Santa doorknob pull, a Gingerbread Man, candy, etc.

When I asked him who he thought was leaving these little gifts, he pointed at the Santa and said that "it had to be him".

Of course I wanted to know why he thought that. To which he quickly responded that "he must come to life at night like all of Doc McStuffin's toys do and visit my bed to bring me stuff".


A Christmas miracle for sure!  Thank you Doc McStuffins and a wooden Santa statue.  Thank you.

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

This past Spring we took a leap into the unknown. After a few years of friends asking us to grow turkeys, we decided to give it a try.

What started out as adorable poults are now the full grown turkeys that are in my refrigerator. 


We knew all along that the day they met their fate would be the Saturday before Thanksgiving. No questions, no backing out - it was go time. 

Jeff spent the last week going through all of the prep in his head. Were his knives sharp? Was his work station prepped with the proper items to sanitize? Would the feather plucker that his dad made actually work? Did he have what it takes to kill a bird that he had taken care of for the last 6 months?

The mood was somber and reflective. Though there was a fair amount of "excitement" if you will about starting a new tradition on the farm. Jeff's ancestors had raised a killed chickens for their own use, but never turkeys. 

Friends of the family came over to help with the process, but the first one Jeff wanted to do on his own. None of us were there when it happened, but I'm sure there was some sense of closure for him. 

***  This is where it's gonna get graphic***

Even though he spent a TON of time reading about the best method of killing the birds, each one wound up being a little different.  Jeff decided to use a cone for the birds. Essentially, you put the turkey in a road cone, and then slit the neck. The idea is for the turkey to not be able to writhe around until the muscles relax. 

This is how he did the first one. After watching him and his mom make an attempt to do the second one, I have NO IDEA how he managed to do it alone.

They were able to get the turkey into the cone, but couldn't fit the neck through the top.

He freed the bird from the cone, caught it, calmed it, and then quickly slit the neck. In an instant it was done. 

What wasn't done in an instant however, were the muscle twitches. Some of the birds continued to flap their wings for close to two minutes after death. That was the creepiest part of the entire process - to see something moving that you know is very obviously dead. 

After he slit the neck, he let the bird bleed out for about 5-10 minutes and then it was time to de-feather.

De-feathering was probably the worst part of the entire thing. Simple concept, not so simple task.

One method of feather removal is to dunk the bird in hot, but not boiling water to loosen the feathers. Picture a spa-like environment. The hot water opens the follicles and in theory makes the feathers easier to remove.  But there was a fine line - too cold and nothing really loosened, too hot and we risked cooking the bird and hence it would have been a waste.

They let the bird "soak" for 2-3 minutes. 

All things considered we probably kept the water a touch on the too cool side. Our next to last bird I think that we got it just right because the feathers just came right off.

We thought that we weren't going to have any issues with the feathers because we built this:

Here you have a piece of PVC pipe, and a bunch of rubber fingers. There is a drill inside to spin the whole thing.  The drill didn't go very fast, so for the second day my father in law put a small motor on the back of it (pictured above). The plucker still didn't work.

This was supposed to be the magic bullet in terms of making the de-feathering process easy.  In the end, it just wound up taking very little of the feathers off, making a fair amount of noise and costing us $50. Oh well.  Maybe it goes back to us not having the water hot enough for the feathers to loosen properly? Maybe the motor didn't run fast enough?

When the machine doesn't work, you use your hands.  Ugh, what a job. Nothing like getting up close and personal with some turkeys and their feathers.

After most of the feathers were off, Jeff started the process of cleaning and gutting the birds. He clipped their wings, cut off the feet, a layer of the skin, and then took out everything on the inside.

I'll pass on the pics, but let me just tell you - it was pretty gross. It wasn't very bloody all things considered. The innards were incredible to look at compared to something that was store bought. These were so vibrant in color and were incredibly lean.

While it was't easy to watch any of the birds in this manor, the one that bothered me the most was the very last one. She made noise as soon as we took the second to last bird away. Not really a crying noise, but an upset noise to say the least.  Then she managed to get out of the pen - so Jeff had to chase her down.  It was very upsetting for all parties - and certainly a surprise for the last one to be the most difficult.

Below is Jeff and the dogs chasing after the last hen.

After each one was gutted, Jeff had to put them in a cooler full of ice to cool them down.  He would get three turkeys in the cooler and then we weighed and bagged them.

Here is Jeff with the final product.

His face in this picture says it all. Proud of what we accomplished, but sad about what we did. He said he felt bad because "there was no sport" in it.  Yes, they were livestock, but it was hard not to feel some guilt about walking in to a pen, picking out a helpless bird and killing it.

In the end it was a fair amount of work to process the birds, though caring for them was relatively easy. It was also pretty costly. I will do a full breakdown but the amount for the housing, feed, etc. was well over $1,000.  We didn't do it to make money, but we definitely didn't come out in the black this first year.

Put your order in for next year because we are definitely going to do it again. We are going to take a class in the spring to become officially certified. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Dreaded Elf on the Shelf

It's barely November and my Facebook Newsfeed and Pinterest threads are already full of ideas for the Elf on the Shelf.  Really people? Take a breath.

 I'm finding that there are two feeling about the good old elf - you either love it, or hate it.  In my case, I've been there, done that, and have a funny story to tell.

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about it from the start. My son isn't the traditional sort of child by any means. He doesn't like trick or treating, in fact he gave out the candy this year, and he wouldn't be caught dead sitting on Santa's lap without some sort of ridiculous bribe from me.

But all the other moms are doing it - so I should be too.

We did everything right - my mother in law snagged one for a fraction of the cost the Christmas before and we packed it away until we thought he would be ready. Last year he was 3 and in preschool so he was going to be exposed one way or the other.  We wracked our brains for a creative name for the little darling.  One name after the next was tossed out - too silly, too boring, not festive enough.. blah blah blah.  You would have thought that we were picking out a name for our next child.  But finally it was decided, his name would be Sprinkles.

Sprinkles made his arrival early one morning in a bowl of Cheerios. Of course I got the idea from Pinterest and of course I thought it was the best thing ever.  My son, not so much.  He gave me this look of "what in the hell is that thing doing in my cereal and why do you think it's cute?"

We kept him high up on our bookshelf so that Sprinkles could "keep an eye on you and report back to Santa". My son was appalled by this - and now that I'm typing it, I am too. When I was a child it was creepy enough to think that some big jolly man with a beard knew what I was doing, let alone having an actual doll in our house keeping constant vigil. Think about it, the words to "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" are just a bit bothersome if you really sit down and think about it "He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake", that sounds like the set up for some bad movie.  (Don't get the pitchforks out and start a riot - I'm still a believer and want my son to be - just trying to make a point. )

In some ways I think that my son didn't like the idea because he couldn't risk Santa not coming. At one point he even offered to buy his own toys from his favorite catalog.  Instead of it being fun, it was a mind game for him.

The final straw (we thought) was when we went on a cruise last year before Christmas. I packed Sprinkles in my suitcase and had a bunch of fun stuff planned. We visited Disney and Sprinkles left my son Mickey Mouse pajamas to wear...  and do you know what my son did?  He knocked Sprinkles off of our dresser and trampled on him.  We didn't know whether to laugh hysterically or turn him over to a therapist.  We decided to laugh it off and pack him away for the rest of the trip, telling him that Sprinkles was in the hospital on the ship. I was off of the hook for ideas for a few days and my son wasn't being "stalked". Life was good.

Then day after day I would see parent after parent proudly display their elves on Facebook and I would feel guilty. Perhaps it was time for Sprinkles to come home from the hospital.  His hat had fallen off from my son's attack on him - so we wrapped his head. While we were wrapping, we decided to bandage him up, make a sling, the whole nine yards. Thinking that some how some way that would make our son change his mind and feel some sort of remorse for his actions. Yeah, let's just say that back fired. His eyes were as big as saucers when he found Sprinkles and his expression was one of "you have GOT to be kidding me".

It wasn't until then that we finally gave up on Sprinkles. My parents understood, after all they were with us on the cruise and saw what happened to him. My dad even jokingly said that "snitches get stitches". But we felt some sort of pressure from the rest of the family to keep it going.  When we packed our house up for the renovation I thought about keeping it close by for the holiday season. Then I laughed to myself and packed it up. Sprinkles didn't give us the same memories that everyone else will probably have, but we still got one heck of a laugh out of it.

A piece of me was sad - I knew that as soon as I would start seeing all of the ideas flood my news feed that I would want to jump on the bandwagon. Why do I feel like a bad mom for not pushing the idea and making my child be like everyone else's so that I can be like the other moms?  The truth is my son isn't like other kids and at the end of the day, I don't want him to be. So rock on buddy, at least you won't live your life feeling like somebody's watching you and I won't be scouring the internet for new ideas.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Thanksgiving Dilemma

I have a problem.

You see, earlier this year we decided that after a few years of friends asking us to grow turkeys that we would actually do it. I've tried my best not to think about their impending move from my back yard to my dinner table, but I'm having a hard time with it.

From the day that they were delivered I told myself that I wasn't going to get attached to them, and that I wouldn't let our son get too attached either.

But, how you can you not look at these little balls of fluff and think of how adorable they look?

I know, I know....  people have grown their own food since the beginning of time. There is a hunter and the hunted. Yes, I get it, but for some reason that doesn't make this process any easier on my end.

I've felt like an absentee wife. I always try to help with the "chores" around the farm in terms of feeding the chickens extra food, planting/picking the garden, etc.  Though, with these poults, I distanced myself from day one, as if me not being involved would actually change the fact that one of them will wind up in my oven.

Part of me feels as though I'm being completely unreasonable. Even though I'm an animal lover at heart, living on the farm has toughened me up quite a bit. I have to be tough, there is life and death all around us. I can only allow myself to think that the goslings and the fox pups are adorable for a limited time until I realize that they really can't coexist very well. I've shed my fair share of tears over things I can't control.  But this, this, is something that we did on purpose. We bought these birds with the intent to kill them.

The other part feels completely awesome and hardcore about it.  It's just another adventure in the many adventures I've had being the "farmer's wife".   We didn't go to Whole Foods to buy our organic turkey, we grew our own! I know what they've been eating, I know that they aren't full of nasty hormones. I know all of the benefits.  Though, unlike that turkey at Whole Foods, I didn't see them like this.

Our once fluffy and cute poults are now full grown turkeys.  These days they are UGLY and stinky, so that makes "the deed" a little easier.  We know which ones are toms and which ones are hens, I know which one Jeff stepped on (by accident of course) and now has a messed up foot. Should it be the one that we choose to eat, the one that I've felt some sort of sympathy for the whole time? Who knows?

I haven't even touched on the fact that I KNOW as sure as I know my name, that our son is going to pick up on the fact that we're having turkey for dinner and that the turkeys that have been around for the better part of the year are now suddenly missing.  We aren't worried about scarring him, but it still makes me a little sad inside. Think about all of the people that you know, and at least one of them has some sort of story about how their grandmother, mother, who ever would go out to the chicken coop and pick one for Sunday dinner. Those people aren't any worse for the wear - or so it seems.

My mother is already boycotting Thanksgiving. I'm trying to convince her (and perhaps maybe myself) that this isn't so bad. That ALL of the turkeys that get eaten on Thanksgiving were slaughtered by someone, or worse, some machine. I'm trying to convince her that our turkeys are going to be "so much better" than the ones that were raised with thousands of others in horrible and filthy conditions - because they are. That we are going to process them as humanely as possible. That we had a bunch of our friends ask us to do this, so we did. That I, not our son, am not going to be scarred by this experience.

As much as I tell myself that I can do this - that I can not only help my husband process these innocent birds, but to also enjoy it as the crown jewel of our Thanksgiving meal, the truth is, I'm not so sure.

....  and to our friends that wanted us to do this - please don't back out now.