Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Get a life

While 2013 has been very good to us, it has also been kind of rough.  I am excited to move forward into the new year with a fresh start, and to continue to build on our many blessings.

We have this habit in our house of taking stock around this time of year.  There are some really great tools to provide guidance in reflection.  Tim Elmore offers insight into his year end tradition.  My friend Lori just posted about her year in review. My all-time favorite is blogger Susannah Conway's Unravelling the Year Ahead workbook.

I am feeling especially reflective because of a comment made on one of my husband's Facebook status updates.  As many of you know, one of the blessings this year was the launch of my husband's handpainted sign and repurposed furniture business.  It's a little part-time gig that has really grown into a great way for him to be creative and to connect with other people.  His work is a little part of him and he invests hours and hours working on designs, building, creating, fussing over details...you get the idea.

So, the comment was,

I like seeing your work but every time I do, i think, you need to get a life. : )

There are a couple of things about this statement.  First, when you say something snarky and put a smiley face behind it, it is still snark.  Second, what if this is his/our life?  What if this is something really important and meaningful?

When we encounter lessons like this in our life, we usually find a way to make them humorous.  "Get a life" has become a rally cry, a sort of inside joke that we toss out in conversation.

I feel a little vindicated after reading a post shared by my friend Ben.  The author has some really simple goals for 2014 - do things and make things. I love it!  Here's hoping that we all get to  Do Things and Make Things Next Year!  And, in the process, we just might get a life.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Plant geek: holiday wreaths

 For the past three years, we have been able to sneak away for short vacations before the Christmas holiday.  It has been a blessing for many reason - primarily because we need the time away.  However, I have been surprised to learn that I can enjoy the holidays in a different way when we take the time to break up the regular routine and slow down just a bit.  When we return, we always jump right back into the madness of our schedules, but for a few days, we can just soak up some of the season.

On each of these trips, I found inspiration in the decor.  Asheville's wreaths just blew me away!

You might know that the Biltmore is a huge attraction for Asheville.  We went on the night tour and our tickets also provided access to the grounds for the following day.  We spent several hours walking the gardens and trails and hanging out in the conservatory.  The wreaths on the doors of the conservatory were out of this world - big and beautiful and full of natural elements.
 I am a big fan of the dried hydrangea.
 Check out the use of the dried wasp nest for the top focal point.
 Here is an idea of how the wasp nest wreaths looked on the main entry to the conservatory.
 These wreaths were on the backside of the conservatory - closest to the gift shop.
 I like the "messiness" of this wreath - free form and lovely.
 We ventured up to the barns and stables and found this great barn and a wreath accent.  We loved the tin star in the center.

 The burlap bow with red accents was perfect for this wreath.
 We found this great wreath at the farmstead near the winery.
I really like the unique way of using the ribbon (burlap is hot, folks!) and the bells.  Super simple and cute.

I have a few more posts planned to geek out over the plants and holiday decor from our trip.  You have been warned!

Asheville good eats

 A friend is headed to Asheville in a few days and I promised to share some of our favorite restaurants from our trip.  We are huge fans of eating at unique, local places.  When traveling, we have become a little better at doing our research to identify some of our options and prioritizing.  Our latest method is to eat a big breakfast, share a light lunch and then find a nice place for dinner.

On our first morning in town, we were on the hunt for a great breakfast place and we found the first of several that made our favorites list, along with some other great local places.

Sunny Point Cafe & Bakery did not disappoint.  We got there just in time to grab a table before the line started to form.  I ended up buying a t-shirt and cookbook because we loved the place so much - real comfort food with great flavors.  And, I grits off my list, something I usually only order in the south.

Tupelo Honey Cafe was a lunchtime stop.  We had a short wait, but all of the reviews told us to expect a wait.  We had delicious pulled pork and fried chicken with fried okra, collard greens, and mac and cheese.  Perfect comfort foods for a cool day.

Biscuit Head was a fun and funky place in West Asheville, not too far from Sunny Point.  We had two giant, delicious biscuits loaded with great toppings.  I had a pulled pork version - yum!

Early Girl Eatery was another bustling place.  We went pretty early on a Sunday morning, and had only a short wait.  The farm-to-table freshness showed through in both of our dishes.  Who would have thought that sweet potatoes in a breakfast scramble would be so delicious?

French Broad Chocolate Lounge was a delightful little place.  We picked up some dessert to take back to our hotel - butter cake, a macaroon brownie and a pecan tart.  We survived a long line and was so glad that we waited.

Farm Burger offered great burgers with really amazing choices of toppings.  We shared some fries on the side.  I spent more time admiring the decor - awesome metal stools, mason jars, and pictures of cows.

There were still several restaurants and breweries on our list that we didn't have the chance to sample - Mellow Mushroom, The Thirsty Monk, Wicked Weed brewery, Carmel's Kitchen and Bar, Rhubarb, and more!  We can't wait to return.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Asheville Glass

On our vacation in Asheville, we decided to try our hand at glassblowing.  We found the Asheville Glass Center - a great place that offered several different kinds of classes, including a 30 minute basic class.

We had a choice of making a glass, Christmas ornament or a paperweight.  I decided to make a glass and my husband made a bud vase.

We had a ton of fun and took away some super cool mementos.  We really liked our instructor as he was very patient and really clear in explaining the process.

I think the next time we travel, we will look for another opportunity to do something similar.  We loved the hands-on aspect and the chance to be creative and learn.  We are super nerdy that way.

You have to love their walk-in schedule.  It was fun to see our names on the list and we loved the giant chalkboard.

Monday, December 16, 2013

And this is why we shouldn't ask people to take our photo

When we travel, we have this tradition of taking photos...lots of photos.

Over the years, we have discovered that we are better off with the selfie.  My husband is the better camera operator and his phone works best.

Look at this example - us and the beautiful Carolina mountains behind us.  Nice, right?

When other people politely offer to take our photo, usually after they watch us clumsily get ready to take our selfie, it turns out bad.  Usually hilariously bad.

Case in point...the antlers growing out of our head in the photo below.

The background:  We were at the beautiful Omni Grove Park Inn to see the National Gingerbread Competition and the historic inn and golf course.  It was breathtaking from start to finish. 

On one of the verandas, they have this great setting for photos - a decorated tree, a north pole looking sign, and a sled pulled by reindeer. In this case, you see the tree and the ANTLERS of the reindeer growing out of our head. 

For goodness sake.  At least we are consistent. 

If you need more proof, check out the bar growing out of my head in the photo with my mom when we celebrated her birthday last spring.  This is a thing for me.

A little vacation does the heart good

Here is a sneak peak at our vacation to Asheville, NC.  We took some time to get away and in a longer post, we can explain why Asheville and why this time of year.

Until then, you should know that we climbed on some high things and zip lined all around a repurposed golf course.  It was completely safe and a serious amount of fun.

A few vacations ago, I learned that the best vacation agendas had to include something outdoor and adventure related - the more active, the better.  Too much history or touring or sitting (even on a pristine beach) equaled a stir crazy husband.

The best vacations (for us) also include some...
 Vintage shopping.  Preferably in places with central air or heat set to a comfortable temperature.  But, hey, if you have the chance to go through a 77,000 square foot vintage store and it doesn't have heat and it's a cold, rainy day, you go anyway.
Great food - preferably local and preferably delicious.  We have found several great local places and found some great tasting southern classics - like pulled pork, fried okra and collard greens.  We may or may not have had pulled pork in two different dishes for breakfast two days in a row.
Learn some stuff.  This trip, it was glass blowing.  Don't I look like a boss in those safety glasses?  I was actually super nervous until we got started and our glass blowing expert was super cool and put me at ease. We pick up our vase and cup today.  Can't wait to see how we did.
 For this time of year - getting into the holiday spirit.  Nothing gets you ready for the holidays more than touring America's largest home - The Biltmore - all decked out in lights and trees and garland and full of live choirs and musicians.  Simply beautiful.
Photos - lot of photos.  Even out of car windows.  Sometimes not in focus.  Sometimes on our phones or with the actual camera.  We don't care...we just want to remember.

So, more soon - just wanted to offer a little teaser about our fun times in Asheville.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Prairie School Farms studio - a dream realized

 Today is the first day for our little studio space in the small town near where we live.  We have always wanted to own a little store and while our full-time jobs won't let us have store in the truest sense of the word, we can use this cute little building for a studio with a little retail space.

We were in town to drop off some yarn for our friend who is making some Christmas stockings for us.  She needed more yarn and we thought we would just deliver it over the weekend.  On the way back to the house, we noticed that this little building was for sale.  Since we had been weighing some options, including renting a storage unit, buying a space that could double for storage/working and could be open for sales looked like a great option.
 Last night we put together this sidewalk message board to welcome our friends and customers.
 We have loved decorating with these wine barrel ring spheres.  We have also loved our concrete planters - another one of my accidental collections.  We were hoping to have something to establish our entrance and the pair of planters looked right at home.
 My husband has a really great eye.  He designed our signs and painted them last night.
 We wanted to have a few things out in front of the store and decided that some of the recycled wood items would be a good fit (and hold up to the little bit of melting ice we still have left from the last winter weather).
 We installed barn wood from my family's farm on the focal point wall.  It is the perfect backdrop for my husband's signs.
 We made the 'joy' signs last night.  We had a lot of fun choosing colors and painting them together.
 Our little collection of glass and plastic ornaments (some vintage) are displayed on the wreath.
 This is a mix of all kinds of treasures - some jewelry, jars, a sign, vintage apothecary jars, maracas, and more.
 One of my favorite things in the shop right now is the vintage wagon we found at my family farm. It is perfect for a holiday display on someone's porch.
 We have two doors with chippy paint to display signs in one of our windows.  It is so much fun to see everything together.
We have an awesome bedroom set on display, along with a lot of cute smalls.  The "be full of joy" sign with the canning jar is super sweet and I can't wait to see who buys it.

Overall, we have had a great start to the day - friendly people and nice traffic.  We couldn't ask for a better start for out little space.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Vintage finds: A Chicago map and a lesson learned

 Ok, so the map isn't really vintage, rather reproduction.  We found it this summer at P.O.S.H. and I had every good intention of getting it framed and installed in our bedroom.

I thought I had it all figured out - buy a frame off the shelf and it would be ready to go.  Well the print size was between two frame sizes and after buying a frame off the shelf and thinking through buying custom cut matte board and mounting it and the stress of making sure it was aligned correctly and discovering that the frame had huge gouges, I scrapped that idea.  Can you feel my (unnecessary) stress?

Plan B:  take it to the big box retailer who has helped with framing before.  They had made a mistake on some custom framing about a year ago, but I thought I could give them a try again.  After several weeks of delay and me calling a few times to check on the status, I finally got word it was ready to pick up.  I was so excited and promptly took it home.  When I unwrapped it, the frame had scratches and gouges.  I was so puzzled.  A custom frame shouldn't get beat up, should it?  I weighed the cost-benefit of taking it back and knew that the imperfections (at that price) would bother me.  So, back I went.  They offered a 10% discount or to reframe it.  I opted for the reframing.

Plan C:  reframe it.  After a few weeks of not hearing anything, I ran into the store to check on the status.  The frame had just been ordered because of a mix up - come back tomorrow.  I went back the next day and it is not done.  They had the new frame and showed it to me - it had scratches and gouges, too!  What did I want to do?  I asked them to cut my print out of the Plan B frame and refund my money.  The poor girl at the check out asked me why I was requesting the refund.  I'm sure there was no code in her register for the story that I gave her, unless they have a catch all "customer is crazy" code.

Plan D:  go to the parking lot and search frame shops on my cell phone.  I found a locally owned shop on the west side of town.  I called and they were open long enough for me to make the drive.  The lady was so super nice and the price estimate was less than the big box store.  She said she would have it finished by next Thursday.

Guess what?  She called on that Monday and it was ready.  The print looked beautiful and I was reminded of a very important lesson - shop local!  The customer service was excellent and her work was perfect.  We are really pleased with how it turned out.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Home T

With a job on a college campus, I see many, many t-shirts in any given year.  Some of the designs are funny, some are inappropriate, and some are both.  And, some of the designs are simply awesome.  I count the Home. t's in this category.

I saw a student sporting one of these shirts several months ago and asked him about it.  He have me the quick version.

The Home T-shirt donates a portion of their profits to multiple sclerosis research.  They have a design for states and countries, all marked with "home."  You can get these awesome soft t's or baby onesies or tote bags.  I had to resist the tote bag because I have a weakness - a serious obsession with all shapes and sizes of totes, reusable shopping bags, and purses.

I love the t-shirt for the feel and fit and the awesome message of being proud of our often overlooked state.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Always Go To The Funeral"

A friend posted this beautiful essay by Deirdre Sullivan, Always Go To The FuneralThe essay was part of NPR's This I Believe series.

Sullivan's words rang true for me.  Over the years, I have adopted the idea that you go to the funeral or the visitation, even if it is a hard thing.  This has been a deliberate decision because I have friends and family who stand squarely on both sides of the issue - to attend or not. The reasons behind their decision make sense - it can be an inconvenience and an emotional event that is hard to manage and you can always just send a card.  At the same time, it can mean so much to the family to see people show up...just to show up and be there in the space, to provide solace and to stand together.  Even if you don't know what to say, I have found that "I am so sorry for your loss," may be all that is necessary.

How do I draw the courage or overcome the inconvenience?  I say to myself before and after, "This is a hard thing.  We do hard things."  One of my favorite authors Anne Lamott in her book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers talks about doing hard things.  She reminds us about hard things like picking up the "two-hundred-pound phone" to call a difficult family member to ask after them, even if they are long-winded and have some quirkiness.  We all have those refreshingly odd, or annoying, or simply crazy relatives who need our love and attention.  In Sullivan's words, "the small gesture that you don't really have to and definitely don't want to" make.

In her essay, Sullivan recalls as a young woman attending "calling hours" for a former teacher.  It made me think back to attending the first funeral I can remember.  I must have been three or four years old and my grandparents were watching me during the week.  My mom was perplexed.  My grandma had an appointment and my grandpa was planning to attend a funeral and he said he would take me along.  My mom wasn't sure.  She didn't want me to be traumatized.  My grandpa negotiated - we would arrive late and sit in the back and he was sure it was a closed casket.  I listened while the adults talked through the situation and I was fascinated - this must be a big deal given all of the discussion.  I felt special that I was going to get to go. My grandpa asked me if I thought it was ok to attend.  I responded in the most inappropriate way, "Yeah, it will be fun!"  My grandpa couldn't help but smile and then he gently explained that it wouldn't be fun, but rather sad and he made sure I understood.  I remember getting dressed up and singing along with hymns while we stood at the back of the church because we arrived late enough for the casket to be at the front of the church.  Standing room only - the sign of a good funeral.

As my grandpa grew older, he continued to go to funerals.  He would sometimes confide that the crowd was getting smaller at each funeral because all of his friends were passing away.  He was outliving them.  Still, until his own funeral, and the short time before when he was unable to leave the house, he went to the funeral.

Sullivan's essay reminds us to "always go to the funeral" for the family and to also use this practice as a guide for life.  She says,
"Always go to the funeral" means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don't feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don't really have to and I definitely don't want to. I'm talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me, but the world to the other guy. You know, the painfully under-attended birthday party. The hospital visit during happy hour. The Shiva call for one of my ex's uncles. In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn't been good versus evil. It's hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.
In going to funerals, I've come to believe that while I wait to make a grand heroic gesture, I should just stick to the small inconveniences that let me share in life's inevitable, occasional calamity.

On a cold April night three years ago, my father died a quiet death from cancer. His funeral was on a Wednesday, middle of the workweek. I had been numb for days when, for some reason, during the funeral, I turned and looked back at the folks in the church. The memory of it still takes my breath away. The most human, powerful and humbling thing I've ever seen was a church at 3:00 on a Wednesday full of inconvenienced people who believe in going to the funeral.
I am being challenged to do the hard thing in a couple of other areas of my life - to show up when I would really rather not.  For several weeks, I have been trying to justify and find a way to feel ok about not showing up when I know it is going to be inconvenient and uncomfortable to be in the space.  This essay came along at the right time to remind me to do good instead of nothing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Vintage finds, new treasures

 I am a sucker for vintage anything and am a big fan of buying little items that "speak to me."  Over the years, I have learned that when you see something you love and if you can justify the purchase, you should make the purchase.

My husband has started to know when to encourage me - mostly because he got tired of us leaving a little town and me telling him that we had to go back to get some little item or another.

I have picked up a few things over the summer and this early fall that have been added to our collections.

In our kitchen, we have a few food labels incorporated in different places.  On our way to a wedding this summer, we stopped in a little shop and I found the end of a wooden apple box that has been framed.  The label was in beautiful shape and the subject was Chelan View Washington Apples from Wenatchee, Washington.  I visited this great little town in college and loved the colors on the label - perfect for my kitchen.  Emotional and practical reasons to purchase, right?

In May, we traveled to Texas for my mom and I to participate in an adventure race and I found the photo of the little boy in full cowboy gear on a Shetland pony.  There were a few copies of this great photo in an antique store in Waxahachie, Texas.  This is the kind of souvenir that I really treasure.

Recently, I found the early primitive bowl and the sweet print of the peaches.  The print drew my attention because on the back it has a stamp for the Franklin Frame Company of Chicago.  It looks like a penciled in price for $1.51.  These finds were from Rerun Consignments in Council Grove.

And, two more finds from Rerun - the hymnal and the handmade pumpkin.  The hymnal is a beautiful old book with so much soul.  The cover has gorgeous color and artwork.  And, the pumpkin is made of hand dyed wool - very cute and perfect for the season.

While I have been carefully selecting new additions for the house, I have also been doing some cleaning and culling.  A little effort here and there has helped things feel refreshed before winter.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Plant geek: fall colors

 There are few falls in my memory that have featured the brilliant colors of foliage as we have enjoyed this year.  You can find brilliant reds, yellows and browns across our Kansas landscape.  I find myself really amazed at the colors that are appearing and staying on the trees around our home and on the campus.

I am particularly
 taken by the tree near one of our chapels on campus.  It has slowly turned from green to this beautiful rust color.  Perhaps what makes it so striking is the oxidized copper roof in the background.  I love the contrast of the green patina and the rusty looking leaves.  I also pass this tree on the walk to and from my car each day and see it as a great sight to bookend my work day.
 We enjoyed some rainy fall days this week.  Rainy fall days are some of my favorite!  I took this photo near our library at the end of the work day, one that was cloudy, cool and rainy.
I can't forget this beauty.  It is in my line of sight when I exit the north doors of my building.  This tree usually has some color, but this year, it has out done itself.  If I remember right, in most years, this tree will drop all leaves all at once...beautiful color one day and gone after a day of strong wind or a hard freeze overnight.

This fall has been a perfect way to ease into the winter ahead.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Silver linings, lemonade from lemons, looking at the bright side and such

We had a carefully planned Saturday.  We each had a list a mile long and planned to go in separate directions and meet back at the house in the evening.  My husband got started with outside chores and I was working on some things in the kitchen, including our meal plan for the weekend. 

I requested a few items from our freezer. First, you should know that our freezer is in the basement and our basement is the old coal cellar of the schoolhouse.  There is an exterior entrance and we usually save up our trips to the freezer and combine it with a trip outside for chores or another errand.

My husband returns to the kitchen and tells me that the freezer has stopped working and we have many, many pounds of partially thawed meat.  We had retrieved something earlier in the week, so we counted up days and took stock of the food and decided that it was all still edible, but we needed to  move fast. I quickly cleaned out our freezer upstairs and we shifted all of the food that was still frozen to a new spot.  That left us with some (a lot! of)  food to prepare.

Between Saturday and today, we browned around 12 pounds of ground buffalo and three packages of buffalo sausage, cooked two buffalo roasts, some soup bones, and a whole turkey, and we grilled about eight buffalo steaks.  I ended up making a few freezer meals and adding a lot of prepared meat to our freezer.

Here are some links to recipes for the freezer meals:

For several weeks I had been wanting to do some cooking ahead and the broken freezer pushed me to action.  It wasn't really in my plan and I am still a little grumpy about all of the dishes I washed over two days. We just kept saying, "it could have been worse!" 

The silver lining, the lemonade from lemons, and the bright side is that our new freezer is installed and has several new food items for us to enjoy over the next few weeks.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Christmas is coming!

We were surprised to see snow last Friday!  I was at work and heard someone say that they saw snowflakes.  By the time I looked outside, there was a pretty good snow shower underway.  And, here I was without a coat!

The change in weather got me to thinking about the holiday season.  We just ordered holiday cards from Persnickety Prints and love them!  They have a great sale for early holiday card orders.  If you order before October 31, you save 30% (code EARLY30) and if you order before November 30, you save 15% (code EARLY15).  The already have reasonable prices and the envelopes are included with the cards.  A sweet deal!

On Saturday, I asked my husband to help with a Pinterest project.  The Christmas tree is a lovely scrap wood creation, some pieces with chippy paint and one with a builder's notes scratched out in pencil.  I am considering having my husband paint a message across the "branches."

It's fun to anticipate the holiday season and to begin making preparations.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Vintage finds and kindred spirits

We enjoy speculating about the activities of "normal" people on any given weekend.  We are usually running around with a giant to-do list and tackling more than is even possible to accomplish in a day.  One of us will say to the other, "You know, normal people lay around and watch golf on a Sunday afternoon."  We have not had a relaxing weekend afternoon in ages.  I am not sure it is part of our fabric.

This Sunday's adventure - setting up a booth space at Rerun Consignments in Council Grove.  We decided to take this leap for a couple of reasons - we really like the owner (and have only heard good things about her business) and we need storage space!  We hope that in the process of getting a few things out of the house, we will make some sales and contribute to Darla's business.

We had a furry of activity on Saturday night.  We both had been busy all day and met up at the house.  We had a few things that we wanted to finish and several items that needed to be cleaned and prepared for packing.  A couple of the projects we completed are the 'always and forever' repurposed window frame, the turquoise message board, turquoise photo frame, a jewelry organizer, and a Christmas tree from scrap wood.  We also picked up some awesome pumpkins from a friend - check out the white Cinderella pumpkin we staged in the wine barrel ring sphere.

While setting up our booth, we met a fellow consignor and I think I made a good friend.  I shopped her booth and found so many things I loved.  She has a great eye and I know I will return to pick up a few things for our home.  I love fellow junkers/vintage finders; they are true kindred spirits.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Giveaway!

It is October and that means a lot of craziness in our schedules and also the flurry of activity to begin to prepare for winter.  While enjoying the cooler temperatures and the beautiful fall colors, we begin to think ahead and prepare so that things will be in a good place when the temperatures get cold.

For my friends who knit, spin and weave, they begin to think about winter fiber projects.  In honor of them, we want to have a giveaway!

Up for grabs:  a sampler of alpaca yarn.  The lucky winner will get four skeins of 100% alpaca yarn.  Our yarns are all natural with no dyes or additives.  The yarn is processed at The Shepherd's Mill in Phillipsburg, Kansas.  (This business is a great small business, small town story!)

These skeins are sport weight and all different lengths (Black, 214 yards. Ivory, 130 yards.  Brown, 191 yards.  Fawn, 208 yards.)  We usually have a skein for each color that is irregular in length because it is the end of the run.  We love to share these with friends and decided to make this year's "ends" the giveaway!

To enter:
Go to our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/prairieschoolfarms
Like the post about the giveaway
Share the post about the giveaway

We will draw one lucky winner on Sunday, October 20.

Don't have Facebook?  Comment on this blog post and tell a friend (via e-mail or any other means).  We believe in the honor system.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kansas Barn Sale

We are still celebrating a great Saturday at the Kansas Barn Sale.

This event is held each fall near Hesston, Kansas and features vintage, handmade and antique goods along with food, live music, and great fun.  We learned about it several months ago and applied to be a vendor.  We were thrilled to be accepted into the juried show and spent a lot of time working on what we might exhibit.

To complicate things, I was scheduled to be working out of state.  We had a plan.  And, like most of our best plans, things happen.  Just before the show, my husband got really sick and it made it hard for me to feel comfortable being a six hour drive away in the event he started to feel bad again.  So, we made the decision that I would stay close to home and help at the show.  We had a time trying to make decisions about what was the best things to do.  In the end, I think we made the right decision, but not without a lot of our usual chaos and scrambling.  Thanks goodness for my mom and dad who helped tremendously.

On the morning of the show, we set up all of our items and had the chance to really take in the whole event.  It was excellent - the best hospitality, a great crowd, excellent sales, and meeting new friends and reconnecting with old friends.

If you have a list of "must-do" fall activities, please add the Kansas Barn Sale.  You won't be disappointed in the quality of the shopping, the entertainment and great food.

Farm visit thank you

One of our favorite things about owning alpacas is having the chance to share them with other people.

A friend asked if she could bring her son to our house to learn about alpacas.  He came home from school and announced that he would like to see an alpaca.  A friend at school had mentioned the animal and the young man was curious. 

Our friend probably never imagined that knowing someone with alpacas would be helpful.

We had a lot of fun showing off our small herd to the young man and one of his friends.  They had the chance to feed them and lead them around our yard.  We showed them the yarn, rugs and roving that we have made from the fiber. 

It was a great day made even better by this sweet thank you note that arrived a couple of days later.

I have a great deal of admiration for parents who encourage their children to show gratitude.  Writing a well-written thank you note is a very good habit.  We love this family!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Vintage photos

 I am working in Texas this week and am loving all of the Texas culture surrounding me at every turn.

The hotel lobby has a lot of interesting decor, including this impressive collection of vintage western photography.  The photos are all framed in black or brown wood frames of about the same width.  The frames line the top of a book shelf that runs along two walls.  I love each of the photos - pictures of what seem to be working ranches, all in black and white.

I love the subject matter and the visual impact of the collection together.  Really simple and lovely.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The luckiest man in the world

Tonight I have the chance to work a booth at the State Fair for work.  My husband, a co-worker and I passed out tons and tons of free items and visited with people all evening.

The state fair brings out an interesting mix of people.  Out of all of the events I work and all of my travels, the state fair is far and away the venue with the best people watching.  Simply put, people from all walks of life, political views, socio-economic status, and higher education allegiance converge in the same place - a land where deep fried food and who has the best giveaways are common topics of conversation.

Beyond the people watching, I also enjoy reconnecting with old friends and connecting with new people.  Tonight, I visited with a real character and he had a message for me.

He shook my had and introduced himself as "the luckiest man in the world."  I was a little taken back when he continued.  He said, "I am sharing my luck with you by shaking your hand.  You are lucky; you just have to keep your eyes open."  He went on to tell me specific examples of how he was lucky.  He fell down earlier in the week (even showed me his scrapes and bruises) and told me he was lucky because he didn't break his arm.  He told me he was lucky because he just got a verbal warning for driving 78 mph in a 55 mph zone.  He went on to tell me that he was lucky because of his grandchildren.

Friends, his message was just what I needed to hear at time when professionally, all is well, but personally, I am feeling really unlucky.  The universe sent me the right message at the right time when I needed it the most.  I am filled with gratitude to have met "the luckiest man in the world" and for him to remind me of my/share with me some LUCK.

P.S. Aside from the people watching, I also really like the bierocks served in the Pride of Kansas building.  Their apple dumplings are delicious, too.  We didn't try any deep fried anything.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Keeping it real

 You know those moments when you are equal parts amazed and horrified.  We (or at least I) had one of those moments a couple of weeks ago.

We cleaned out the garage.

I am not talking about a quick pick up and sweep the floor.

I am talking about a take-EVERYTHING-out and sort-through-EVERYTHING. We, as amazing as it sounds, fit everything back into the garage, only in a more organized and logical fashion.

Things I learned:

1.  We have a lot of stuff.
2.  We have a diverse collection of stuff.
3.  We have enough projects to last us two lifetimes.
4.  My husband tends to work quickly and not put things away.  I tend to hound him about putting away the things he's not using.  My logic is about saving time (and my sanity) by not asking for and looking for the hammer or tape measure or a screwdriver every five minutes.  But, to each his own.
5.  We have a lot of cool stuff.  I mean it.  We have some great things in line for some upcoming sales.  My husband has a really good eye and a creative mind, so the next couple of shows should be a ton of fun.
If you ever think that we have got it all together, just remember this picture.