No matter the fact that we haven’t blogged in about 6 months, I felt compelled to contribute a little Foto Friday gem since I actually had something to post!
Two weekends ago Keith and I decided to drive down to visit my parents in Mississippi. Dad had recently built a brand-new boat dock/house/over-the-water-structure and we thought that sounded like a perfect excuse to go visit. As we were packing up to head South, Keith asked, “Hey….will Mary-Hall be home this weekend?” I responded that I doubted it….it wasn’t a holiday and even though our parents still live only about 15 minutes apart, Mary-Hall lives about 3 hours from where we grew up. Keith was undeterred by this logic and said I needed to text her.
My phone rang almost instantly. She was driving to her parents’ house for the night last minute (and kid-free) and would love to stop by….proof that one should always always always get in touch even when it’s a long shot. Grateful to have had even only a few minutes with this amazing girl.
So here we are….proof that yes, we’re still both alive and still very much friends. 🙂 Maybe one day life will slow down enough to resume regular blog-posting. Or maybe we’ll at least be able to send you a photo every once in awhile.
Some of you who follow me on social media were less interested in the juice part of my juice-fast photos and more interested in my hair. Some of you were loving the bangs, a few of you thought the new dark color looked great and the majority wanted to know….had I cut it? or was it just pulled back? No one could be sure. So I’m taking to the blog to set the record straight, and bring you a fashion-related post for 2015.
I’m still rocking the bangs I got cut almost 2 years ago, I didn’t add any color to my hair (to be fair…I think the Instagram filter made it look extra dark), but YES….I did cut it. I big time cut it.
I am not in the least bit the girl who spends time on her hair or makeup. I attempt to look somewhat cute and up-to-date, but only if it isn’t difficult and doesn’t take a whole lot of time or effort. About 5 years ago, I found a hair stylist I really liked and started getting haircuts on a somewhat regular schedule which was a pretty big deal in my world. And then, in March of 2013…I took a big step and cut bangs…coincidentally on the same day that Mary-Hall got bangs as well. Great minds, and long-time friends, think alike, apparently, even 7 hours apart.
I don’t know quite what got into me, but I went for a regularly scheduled haircut appointment the other day and decided I wanted some thing a little bit different. I’d kind of fallen in love with the look that Taylor Swift has been sporting lately (no matter your opinions on her music, her dating life, or her recent move to New York, you gotta admit, she always looks fantastic.) and wondered if I could pull off something similar.
But as tends to happen when I hop in the chair, I got a case of hair-fright. I got a cut, but just a slightly shorter version of what I had. Still cute, but in my mind, it kind of looked like I went half-way. So I made another appointment 4 days later and went in and Got. It. Cut. My stylist was armed with a file of Pinterest hair photos and assured me that the “Lob” (thats the “long bob”) was totally what was coming in for 2015. And it’s true. Everywhere I look, I’m seeing images like this of varying lengths. On commercials, on internet clothing-store websites, in my neighborhood coffee shops.
As I scrolled through her photos, I came across the last one above that totally sealed the deal. “Yes, please, can you make me look like that?” All in all, I took off about about 8 inches. The floor of the salon looked like a small herd of guinea pigs had gathered at my feet. I had that same “I love it, I hate it, I love it again” reaction that I experienced when I cut my bangs. All my family and close friends seemed to be of the opinion that “it’s super cute but it’s drastic and weird to see it on you” which was how I felt too. But the more I wear it, the more I love it. It’s more labor – intensive styling – wise than my old haircut, BUT…that’s not really a deal breaker. Besides, I never really “fixed” my old hairstyle, and when I did….it certainly didn’t “keep” well. This new style takes a little time after I wash it, but then it basically holds it’s style until I wash it again which is HUGE. No more throwing my hair on top of my head in a half-ponytail, half bun and pinning my bangs back with 80 bobby pins. I feel put-together even if I’ve got on pjs which is nice….because, well, I like wearing pjs. So here’s to short hair and looking sassy in 2015.
Also, for anyone interested in doing a similar cut, here’s a peek at my styling-routine. I wash my hair, towel dry and spray with a generous amount of Bumble and Bumble’s “Tonic Lotion Primer.” Then I work through a nickle sized blob of B&B “Grooming Creme” and brush my hair straight to make sure all the product is worked in. I blowdry my bangs first using a brush and pushing from one side to the other to give some body. Then I blowdry the rest of my hair…I divide it into locks and twist each lock into a tight strand and dry it. (At this length, it really doesn’t take that long.) Once my hair is mostly dry (with a hint of wave to it) I twist the locks again, spray each with surf spray, fluff it out and blowdry on low anything that isn’t already completely dry. If you want a stronger curl/wave, I’d suggest following up with a one inch barrel curling iron or curling with a flat iron afterwards.
On January 6th, I announced via an Instagram photo that I was on day one of a juice fast. I honestly didn’t even think anyone would care about my juice fast. But turns out you guys are SUPER interested in juice fasts. I’ve completely lost track of the number of texts, Facebook messages, Instagram comments, etc. that I’ve gotten in the past few days wanting to know what program I’m following, is it working, do I like it, how long am I doing this? So I figured the best way to answer everyone’s questions was through a blog post since we’ve sort of fired up the blog again anyway. I’ve done sort of an “interview” with myself using all the questions I’ve gotten over the past week…and then at the bottom posted a link to another page with more info in case you are hungry for more juicy details. (See what I did there? Juicy….)
“What made you want to do this?” Keith and I enjoy watching documentaries on rare nights when we’re both home and have nothing to do. We’ve watched lots of them on a plethora of topics over the years, but last Monday, January 5th, as we perused the documentary options, we decided to watch one we’d scrolled past a few times before, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.” The movie chronicles the story of Joe Cross, and Australian battling an autoimmune disorder and obesity who goes on a 60 day juice fast, loses a large amount of weight, cures his disease and is able to get off all prescriptions, and in the process travels around inspiring others and ultimately forming his own juicing-plan empire. Neither Keith nor I are obese and neither of us battle any chronic diseases, but we both were feeling sluggish and like we each wanted to just “lose 5 pounds.” As I mentioned in last Monday’s recipe post, we were determined to get back on our Paleo/healthy eating plans and maybe even start working out again. It seems like a million years ago when I went all exercise crazy and did two half marathons and a triathalon in the space of three months. (check out our running adventures here). I’m kind of a sucker for an inspirational story, so after the show was over I turned to Keith and said, “I’m doing that. A juice fast. I don’t know for how long, or what it looks like, but I’m doing that.” And because he’s the best husband on the face of the planet, he VOLUNTARILY decided to join me.
“Are you following a certain plan? Where do you get your recipes?” The answer to this is No, I’m not following any specific plan. Since Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead was where I got the idea, Keith and I both did a good bit of reading on Joe’s website and have taken lots of cues from the info that he provides…tips on how to prepare certain fruits and veggies for juicing, a few recipes, some basic advice. This wasn’t my first experience with juicing. We’d had a brief fling with it after we ended up scoring a free juicer with purchase of some large appliances at Sears a few years ago (gotta love random incentives on items you’re already planning on buying). Back then I’d also bought The Juicing Bible (2nd edition) and so I pulled that out and grabbed a few recipes from that as well. But then most of the time, I just throw in what I’m feeling like and go for it.
“How long are you going to do this? Have you cheated yet?” When I first started, I said my minimum was 3 days. I’d read that that’s about how long it takes for your body to “cleanse.” Because I knew it would be a very difficult to sustain this fast while on the road like I am, I decided the longest I would do it would be 10 days, because that was how many days I had in town before hitting the road again. I decided I’d see how things went after day 3 and figure it out from there. Days 1, 2 and 3 I juiced like a champ drinking about 16 ounces of juice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any time in-between that I was hungry. Day 2, around dinner time, I missed chewing. I know that sounds weird. But I was making a juice and had all these veggies on the counter-top and I just wanted to EAT, not drink. So I ate an entire pomegranate-worth of seeds, and a bowl of plain, raw spinach leaves. I refuse to count this as a cheat because it was stuff that would have gone in my juice…I just ate it instead of drinking it.
But then Day 4 was a little tough and so I’m going to say that this was the day I ended my official “juice fast” and entered a healthy eating phase. I was feeling weak and a little headachy, and after Keith spent some time on Google searching for info, we decided I was feeling a little sodium deficient. A text conversation with Mary-Hall ensued and she suggested salting the rim of my juice glass like you would a margarita, which was positively genius, but Keith and I decided we both probably needed some salt and some protein. So we went to one of our favorite restaurants right down the street that we know uses all local and organic fixin’s and doesn’t cook everything in 6 pounds of butter and we each got a meal: a grilled chicken breast on top of their “local salad” of mixed greens, butternut squash and pecans. And for “dessert” we split an order of sweet potato fries…(they make their own, fry them in peanut oil and salt them.) So I guess technically my “fast” is broken and now I’m just on a juicing-heavy diet, but I don’t feel a bit bad about myself if a grilled chicken breast on a salad of mixed greens is a “cheat.”
Since then, I’ve been doing juice most of the day, and then incorporating one healthy meal. Day 5 I had an appetizer-size portion seared ahi tuna with avocado along with a small portion of chicken and mushrooms. Day 6 was a plate of okra sauteed in olive oil and seasoned only with salt and pepper as well as a small bowl of homemade turkey, kale and cannelloni bean soup. I’m still feeling great, loving the vitamins and minerals I’m getting through the juice, and loving that my meals are small portions of very healthy foods so when I do eat, I don’t feel too full…or guilty.
“Are you seeing any results?” Yes! Since starting the juice fast I’ve lost an average of a pound a day and I feel like my mood, productivity at work and energy levels have all improved. (Except once or twice apparently I’ve teetered on the edge of grumpy because Keith has said, “I think you need to make a juice.”) I think my stomach has shrunk as I could barely finish my chicken breast and greens on Friday night. Also….and this has been the biggest thing….my cravings have changed. I no longer want cupcakes and fast food. If I crave something to eat its more like I really want to eat the fruits and veggies I’m putting in my juice instead of drinking them. Or for instance, on day 4, for whatever reason I was DYING for a grilled chicken breast.
“I want to try. Can you tell me what to do?” I love getting to inspire and encourage others to be healthy, so my answer is yes and no. Disclaimer time: First of all, for full disclosure, while I do have a Masters degree in Health Education, I’m not a doctor or a certified nutritionist or anything like that. So while I would never knowingly make a risky health decision for myself or others, I’m also not in any place, particularly not knowing your specific health status and circumstances, to advise you on what you should or shouldn’t do from a diet standpoint. However, I do know enough that I can safely advise you that particularly if you have any health issues, it would be best for you to talk to your doctor before beginning any drastic diet or exercise regimen. Also that barring particular allergies or diseases that might be directly linked to sugar intake or intake of specific vitamins, adding in a few servings of fruits or veggies generally serves to promote overall good health. So with that being said, I’ve actually put together a whole page of recipes, tips, suggestions, etc. for you to peruse if you’re thinking of doing your own juice-fast. You can click the link below to read more!
It’s the new year and everyone is making resolutions to work out, get organized, spend more time doing one thing, or less time doing another, ahem, BLOG MORE? and of course, eat healthier foods. Keith and I have sadly gotten way off the Paleo bandwagon, but are determined to do better in 2015. This past weekend after whipping up a giant batch of Caveman Chili….still a Bordeaux family favorite…Keith decided he wanted something sweet. And then he got specific about it. He wanted something sweet that involved “pears, and maybe dates and nuts that was like a cobbler.” So of course I took that as a challenge….not to hunt through my cookbooks for a recipe…but to make up one myself. And then this old familiar feeling crept in and I knew I wanted to make something up and then blog about it. Because frankly, sharing is more fun and I miss you people.
So I did a trial run Saturday night and it was absolutely amazing and precisely what Keith was hoping for. And we ate all of it, which meant Sunday night involved a trip to the grocery store and then the making of batch #2…this time carefully writing down how much I used of what, tweaking a few things that didn’t go super easy the first time, etc. And it was just as delicious. So behold, I bring you an original, pretty much healthy (minus some sugar naturally contained in fruit and honey) and absolutely tasty desert.
“Mini Paleo Pear-Date Bake”
Time: about 15 minutes prep time & 15 minutes bake time
Makes: 6 individual portions….so feeds 6 people, or 3 hungry people, or 2 super-hungry people….
*2 Bartlett pears
*2 cups pitted dates
*1 Tablespoon honey
*1/4 cup water
*1 teaspoon coconut oil (plus additional for topping….see instructions below)
*1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 to 1/2 cups crushed walnuts
*6, 4-oz Ramekins (dishes)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).
2. Slice both pears using an apple corer. Set aside 6 slices of pear (we’ll get to those later) and throw the rest of the pear slices in the food processor and blend until chopped finely. (A minute or two) (note: I actually tried to make this in the blender the first night and while it tasted excellent it took about twice as long and was kind of a pain. I recommend a food processor if you have one, but if you don’t, a high power blender like a Ninja or something will do the trick if you have patience.)
3. Add the 2 cups of pitted dates, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon coconut oil and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the food processor. Blend as long as needed to achieve a puree about the consistency of baby food or applesauce.
4. Fill each ramekin with about 3 ounces of puree (I grabbed a spoon from my everyday silverware to spoon it into the ramekins and it was about two heaping spoon-fulls per ramekin.). No need to grease or butter or line the ramekins. Just spoon the puree on in there.
5. Slice the remaining 6 pear slices thinly and then cut them in half so that they (roughly) make small triangular slices. Insert the slices around the edges of the ramekins standing up and then one in the center. (see photos below to see how it should look).
6. Using either pre-crushed walnuts from a package or crushing your own (Keith crushed our walnuts in a mortar and pestle and they were perfect) sprinkle them over the top of each ramekin to cover the entire surface of the puree. I used approximately 2 1/2 teaspoons crushed nuts per ramekin….use more or less to taste.
7. The last step before baking is to put a thin layer of coconut oil over the nut topping. After trying it several different ways over the course of two evenings, I think there’s no real exact science to this. I used a butter knife to scrape tiny bits off and put about four small pieces in sort of a circle on the nut topping of each Ramekin so that when it melts, it would cover the entire top. (again, see photos below for some clarification.)
8. Line up the 6 ramekins on a cookie sheet (this makes it easier than trying to get the individual ones in and out of the oven) and bake on 325 for 15 minutes.
9. Best enjoyed when hot as it tastes like a cobbler! But, if you want to save some for the next day, just cover over with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. They reheat well in the microwave on high for 40 seconds. Also, never-mind if the pears turn brown. They still taste fantastic.
Variations: While I haven’t tried making variations yet because I was trying to get this one right…but here are a few ideas that I have for down the road or that might be fun…
*substitute dried apricots for pitted dates as they have less amounts of sugar.
*substitute 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg for the 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
*substitute apples for pears.
I’d LOVE to know what you think if you try this recipe out…and if you make any variations, I’d love to know about that too! Leave a comment below!
…….and all I got her was this lousy blog post.
I had totally planned for the chickens to pose for some elaborate birthday themed photo sesh, but life has been so frenetic lately, that all she gets is the this birthday chicken graphic I stole from the interwebs.
Love you MH and hope your day was lovely! You have five days to report back and tell me if I should bother turning 32 or not. 🙂
A little over a year and a half ago, in effort to meet the book reading portion of her Thirty By Thirty checklist, Mary-Hall read and reviewed a book called 7:an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker. (Read Mary-Hall’s original blog entry by clicking here.) Coincidentally, about 3 months later my boss and I headed to a conference in Michigan where she had been hired to be one of two key-note speakers for the weekend…Jen being the other one. I, of course, made several awkward blubbering remarks about how my best friend had just read her book and said it was awesome, etc. etc. but fortunately Jen is just as super and awesome and gracious and hilarious in person as you would expect her to be from her writing, and was completely un-phased by my temporary fan-girl moment. Anyway. Before I packed up and headed out, I purchased my own copy of “7” from her product table along with another of her earlier books.
And then I put them on my bookshelf at home.
And didn’t pick up either of them for over a year.
Until two days ago.
Keith was deep into a book of his own and the house was full of the peaceful sounds of birds chirping outside (plus an occasional chicken squwak or two) and the cat purring and the hum of passers-by outside headed to eat popsicles and fancy burgers from one of the fabulous joints at the end of our street. Basically, and all around reading haven, and so I went into our library and carefully considered the many books on the shelves I’ve never read. And from the middle of the “H” author section, “7” called my name and I’m ever so glad it did.
The short synopsis of the book is that the author went on seven different “fasts,” each one a month long, focused on simplifying life for the purpose of allowing Christ to reveal areas in her life that needed re-aligning. It’s hilariously written, but the depth behind it has had me in tears on more than one occasion. It’s the kind of book that made me want to make some changes, some of which may or may not happen. Changes like going more green. I spent about 20 minutes researching the possibility of setting up a self-waterer system for my chickens that involves the water we collect in our rain barrel. (The jury is still out whether or not that is a safe thing for the chickens to drink so I’ll need to do lots more research first.) I’d love to finally try a CSA (community supported agriculture). I’m also motivated to clean out some of the like-new-condition housewares from our shed and find an organization that works with refugees instead of donating them to GoodWill or selling them on Craigslist. I’m considering instituting a personal rule with housewares and clothing that if I buy an item, I give one away. For example, if I buy a new sweater, I choose a sweater to give to a women’s shelter so that I never exceed the amount of clothing I have now. I want to try my hand at composting again. (I can already hear Keith groaning as he reads this.) While financially our spending and saving are both on the right track, I think there is more we could be doing to plan for retirement.
My brain got overloaded with ideas and so I put the book down for a minute and opened up my laptop to check my email. I had 13 new ones in the hour since I’d checked it (!) and as I checked the first one, from a marketing list I’m on, I clicked over to an Etsy shop that sold expensive, beautiful leather laptop bags. Ten minutes later, I found that I was in the midst of an internal dialogue trying to rationalize the purchase of a super cute retro style bathing suit that was “on sale” from another shop that had sent me an email. (No matter that I haven’t once this summer donned swim attire, have zero plans to go anywhere involving water for the rest of the summer, and that in addition to a few cute, relatively new-ish suits of my own, a friend recently sent me a box of almost-brand-new bathing suits that she wasn’t going to use post having given birth to twins.) I kept clicking and suddenly realized that 12 out of the 13 emails were marketing emails from stores and that I’d wasted about 45 minutes and been tempted to purchase LOTS of things that I neither needed, or should spend money on.
And then it hit me.
I didn’t have to only eat 7 foods for an entire month (an actual chapter of the book) or sell my home and live in an trailer park or anything crazy drastic. I could start small. I could unsubscribe from marking emails that do nothing but flood my inbox, steal my time, and fill me with all sorts of consumerism that really at the end of the day only led to covetous thoughts and discontent with the many many many material things I am blessed with. So I opened up my trash email folder and started unsubscribing and changing email settings. When I was finished, I believe I had unsubscribed from a grand total of 47 different emails. FORTY-SEVEN. What in the world? I was baffled at how many times a day I plug in my email address without thinking about the barrage of junk email that will ensue. The Home Depot Garden Club from when I was comparison shopping rain barrels and hoped there would be a coupon. CNNSports.com from when I was in a Final Four Bracket Challenge 5 years ago. (Five! And I’ve just been hitting “Delete” all these years!) The Red Dress Boutique from when, well, which I don’t even remember signing up for. Most of them (Papa John’s Pizza, for instance) were no-brainers to pull the plug on. A few were trickier. Anthropologie was the hardest to unsubscribe from and I even tried to rationalize not unsubscribing because I actually shop there. But I realized that I have tons of super cute clothes and I do NOT need the temptation (or the time waste) of browsing their emails daily. And on and on it went.
I know it’s not drastic or revolutionary. But I’m excited to see what this electronic purge does to my time management, satisfaction level, spending habits and online productivity. And who knows. Maybe it will be the first step in bigger things. Like a social media fast or a shed clean out. And I challenge you to figure out from what you need to unsubscribe. I think we all have something we could use less of in our lives.
I remember the first time I went to a women’s conference. I was 23 and the sister-in-law of a friend of mine had invited me. I’d told her no a few times….I didn’t really “do” women’s ministry…I thought women’s events were only for middle aged women with perfectly coiffed hair who had memorized half the Bible, prayed for others 24 hours a day, and never made any mistakes. I was a newly minted college graduate with big dreams and little direction and couldn’t imagine what I would have in common with anyone else in attendance. Plus there was that tiny issue of the admission fee. I was playing violin at churches and weddings on the weekends and working part-time as a sales clerk at a high-end children’s boutique during the week. Neither of these jobs brought in a whole lot of money and I figured paying my electric bill was more important than buying a ticket to an event. The third time I tried to decline the invitation, an “extra ticket” magically appeared and I found myself agreeing to be picked up after dinner the following Friday night.
The speaker that weekend was a young, vivacious Bible teacher named Priscilla Shirer who spoke truth to places in my soul that I didn’t even know needed it. A month or so later, the director of my church’s women’s ministry asked if I would be interested as serving as the first ever “young women’s” rep on the 25-member women’s ministry committee, to which I agreed (although to this day, I feel that I was an unlikely candidate). When Priscilla returned to our church a year or two later, I found myself leading worship for the conference instead of being the scared kid sitting in the back of the room. But when I moved to Nashville, I moved here for music and for a new town, not for anything to do with women’s ministry. I’d enjoyed my time serving on the committee but it honestly never occurred to me that it would circle back around and end up taking center stage in my life. But then the opportunity to work for Kelly Minter came along and I am so blessed to be part of seeing ladies lives impacted each day. And I’m grateful daily for those ladies that poured into me ten or so years ago.
They say that hindsight is 20/20 and as I look back to the hours I spent planning a “Bible Study Introduction Tea” and prepping for the annual women’s conference, I recognize that those experiences weren’t happenstance; they were preparing me for the tasks that I do on a daily basis at work. But never has my women’s ministry journey come into play more than this summer as I work to plan the first ever “Cultivate: A Women’s Gathering Around the Word.” It has been on Kelly’s heart for a while to create an opportunity for women to come together and study the Word and worship in a simple environment. Kelly will be teaching three sessions and our dear friend Michelle Margiotta will lead worship (Adam Moritz who produced my album will jump in on acoustic guitar and I’ll round out the trio on violin). And because Kelly loves the people of the Amazon jungle dearly, all proceeds from the event will go to benefit the work of Justice & Mercy International, the organization that I traveled to Brazil with last year.
If you are in the Nashville area, or looking for a fantastic weekend get-away with friends, I invite you to be part of this event. If you think that women’s events aren’t really your jam, I would encourage you to step out and join us anyway. Sometimes the thing you don’t think you need is EXACTLY the thing you need, and we pray you’ll feel comfortable in our simple and contemplative environment And if attending feels like a perfectly natural thing for you to do, I’d ask you to consider bringing someone else along. You may never know the impact that an invitation (and a ticket) might make on a person. And isn’t that what we’re called to do as Christians? To pour into one another? To encourage and build one another up? We know there are so many things vying for your time and attention, but we pray that you’ll choose to spend a few hours with us in August. Event information is below and you can purchase tickets HERE or by clicking on any of the event logos. If you have any questions, you can leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Biblically focused and stylistically simple, this will be a time to seek God’s Word, worship with an elegant trio of musicians and enjoy the warmth of community. This event features Bible Teacher Kelly Minter and worship leader Michelle Margiotta. All proceeds will support the work of Justice and Mercy International.
7:00pm-9:00pm – Friday August 15
9:00am-12:30pm – Saturday August 16
Rolling Hills Community Church ~ Franklin, TN
Tickets can be purchased online HERE, or in person at Rolling Hills Community Church or by calling their box office at (615) 861-3663. All tickets are general admission. For group ticket purchases of 10 or more, it is possible to reserve seating together. Please contact Bethany Bordeaux at email@example.com to reserve your group seating, or with any questions you may have about the event.
A few weeks ago, Mary Hall graciously took us on a tour of this year’s Johnson family garden. And it got me thinking that I should follow suit. Now before you get all excited, lets review that I don’t have a large garden. In fact, I just have a few things growing here and there, but what I’ve got is strategic so I just had to share.
First off, we have an herb box on our back porch willed with lavender, rosemary and cilantro. Everything grew gangbusters this year thanks to some stakes and netting I added over it. Last year, the chickens decided that the herb box was the perfect size for them to hop in and take a dirt bath so our herbs didn’t make it very far. Although the netting is only loosely draped over the top, it’s been enough to deter my feathered friends from trying to get cozy so I’ll probably continue this practice in years to come.
Next is a new addition to the yard….two blueberry bushes. If you remember from years past, Keith and I both really love picking blueberries (see here and here for more blueberry adventures, or here and here for some yummy blueberry recipes) so it really only made sense for us to add our own bushes. Louisa the chicken has developed a penchant for jumping up to grab the ripe berries off the top so we may not end up getting very many until the bushes get bigger. But I’m glad to have them in our yard nonetheless…and have enjoyed the few tasty berries I’ve already been able to pick from them.
Last on the list of growing our own food this year is the actual garden portion of our “garden coop.” Last year I decided to bring some shade into the coop by growing pole bean plants and cherry tomatoes up the side of the coop. (You can see the start of that project here, although I apparently neglected to post update photos.) The beans were wildly successful and the tomatoes were as well so I reprised the project this year and planted from seed long before the last freeze not knowing that you’re supposed to start seeds inside and that beans and tomatoes both have a planting season. I don’t know if it’s all that fertile soil from the chicken poop, or just dumb luck or a combination of both, but my little seeds are growing like champs, climbing the coop wall like a trellis and already bringing shade to our hens. The bean plants are full of blooms and I have several baby tomatoes on my tomato vines. I put some bird netting around this garden too to keep the chickens from digging up my plants and so far it’s been successful.
And on the non-edibles front, we did a few hanging baskets and such, but the most notable victory has been our daffodils. Aren’t they lovely?
So there you have it. Not as fancy as the all-out farm that Mary-Hall has cranking at her place, but always exciting to grow your own food.
Two Novembers ago my dear friend Jessica and her husband came to visit us. Jessica has home decor style oozing out her very pores and so I naturally mentioned to her that I was stumped on what to hang above my desk in our office/music room/library. She suggested that I needed a colorful painting and showed me some floral pieces online by a favorite artist of hers that I loved but couldn’t even begin to afford. But Jess was completely unphased and said she’d painted a similar piece for her house…what colors did I like? She bet she could make me one. Barely 3 days after she got home, a gigantic package showed up on my front porch with a beautiful and bright painting inside. I loved it and immediately hung it above my desk. It made me smile every day as I worked.
Ever since then, I have wanted to make some sort of whitewashed frame to make the happy painting pop even more against the chocolate brown walls. But as I’m sure many of you have experienced, it just sort of sat at the top of my “to do” list and never got done. Until I had the trifecta of perfect circumstances that made me put my intentions into action. First, I had a rare free afternoon. Second, Keith had a few yard projects he wanted to knock out so I was hunting for a DIY to do and third, we’d just gotten some Hatch Show Prints framed on sale at Michael’s so we were in the picture-hanging mood.
I knew that I wanted something with a slightly whitewashed appearance. Something similar to when my friend Amy and I made a decorative shelf for her bathroom. I also really love the look of variegated planks (like on our chicken coop) so I decided that instead of doing a frame around the painting, I’d do one behind it out of slats of wood. I wanted something a little sleeker than palate wood and not as heavy as lumber, so I headed to Michael’s craft store and straight to the model-plane making aisle where I chose 6 slats of ultra-light weight Balsa wood. I got lucky because my painting was 20″ x 20″ and the Balsa wood slats were 4″ x 24″ inches which meant that 6 of them made a 24″ x 24″ square leaving 2 inches on each side of the painting. The boards were $3.49 each so with tax the wood for the project cost less than $25.
I laid out all the planks on a sheet of plastic and decided to go with a light grey paint instead of the minwax stain that I’d used on the shelf project as I felt like it complimented the white flower accents better than a stain would have. However, I diluted the paint with water to it wouldn’t be so thick and would give more of a stain appearance than a paint appearance. It worked really well and I painted all the boards with two thin coats.
The hardest part about the project by far was centering the boards on the back of the painting. I laid the painting face down and then measured the slats and the painting to make sure that all sides were equal. Then starting in the middle and working out, I nailed each slat to the wooden frame of the canvas using tiny tacks and a hammer. (Make sure your nails are tiny as balsa wood splits easily.) Then I attached a picture hanger to the back (we had one in the shed, but they are only a dollar or two if you have to buy one) and voila!
The Hatch prints we’d gotten framed (that I mentioned at the top of the post) were originally intended to be hung in our living room which has gotten a bit of a facelift as of late. But as seems to often happen with redecorating, hanging one print turned into an all-out fruit-basket-turnover of wall art throughout the house. While I loved having the painting from Jess above my desk, I also wanted it somewhere that everyone would see it…not hidden in my office. So we gave it a home on the most prominent wall in our living room where it will make everyone who comes through our doors smile. Hanging next to it is my Nickel Creek reunion tour Hatch Print from the Ryman show, while my Eucharisteo painting adorns the wall to the left and a wood-mounted photo of a piano by local photographer Eden Frangipane (it’s the first photo you see if you click here) hangs on the wall opposite. And our living room is now officially the happiest place to be. There are definitely perks to having wallflowers.
Whenever I run into one of the 5 people that actually read our blog, everyone always seems to comment that they love Mary-Hall’s recipes and DIY projects and my chicken posts. At a wedding a few weeks ago, one of Keith’s co-workers said, “please do another chicken post soon!” So to comply with that tidbit of free “market research,” I figured it was high time for another chicken post, since I haven’t done one since Sylvia died. And it’s perfect timing too since we’ve been talking about the Not Wedding Dinner Party Styled shoot all week…
All the vendors absolutely cracked up when they found about the chickens and the coop and then became sort of obsessed with them. We even incorporated the ladies into several of the shots…lured into doing pretty much anything with the help of a few dried worms. Since the ladies have already had their portraits painted, and won a photo contest, it seemed only logical that being included in a high-fashion, wedding-themed, professional-level photo shoot was the next progression in their path to fame and fortune. Our friend Hannah snapped some amazing photos that I thought I’d share with you here. So just scroll away and check out the captions.
The girls have also never met a stranger and love it when people stop by to see them which is a good thing because it seems to happen frequently. But when it comes to holding still for a picture, Beverly is the most patient with those not used to holding hens. Plus, she’s just so fluffy and yellow that it’s quite adorable. My favorite quote of all time is when a business contact of mine said, in the most serious tone ever, “Do you think Beverly Clucky KNOWS she’s the prettiest of all the chickens?” So here you go, just for fun, a few additional pictures of Beverly with the friends she’s made along the way. Oh, and one of Louisa, just for good measure.