moments, strengths, and stars.....

Today marks a year since my dad was here one moment and gone the next. There was no 'hanging by a thread', no struggle for life, no warnings of what was to come, just ..... gone. In an instant.

I have had many thoughts on death and dealing with life after death in the last year. I have questioned things that I will never have an answer to. I have even at times blamed someone or something where there isn't any blame to cast. I have accepted there will be no answers and no one to blame. Ever.

I have grown as a person. I have adapted to a different way of life. I have learned to understand things in a completely different way, a new perspective.

I took the last week off from posting here because I was unsure how I would feel today. I was building anxieties, and when I realized this, decided it was time to do some self reflection. A week of learning. I clamored in my own anxious thoughts and eventually found peace. Peace through focusing on what has come from this - which actually are a lot of things that I can say would make my daddy proud!

We will never appreciate the sunshine if we haven't had the rain. ... I have a hard time admitting how often I get stuck. Boy, my wheels will be spinning, but I can't seem to catch my footing. This last week, I battled with sinking into self pity or rising to acknowledge the positive that has come from the events in the last year. I had several 'sit downs' with myself, and luckily now, I am grateful for my strength to recognize all the beauty in my life and all the things that were gifted to me from this. When life stops you dead in your tracks, sometimes you have no other options but to reboot, recharge, and start growing again.

My relationship with my dad has actually deepened after his death, just by indulging in a relationship with Rose (his horse). I've never cared for horses, but now see the attraction to these sensitive, strong, beastly creatures. I had every right to be intimidated by them my whole life. There is a saying that horses are a mirror to your soul. I believe this to be true. I have always thought of myself as bold, adventurous, and wild at heart - not afraid of much, but in all honesty, I never put myself in the position to be afraid of much. I never had to put myself in front of a horse until daddy left. I could shrug off my fear and pretend it wasn't there easily if I didn't have to be directly in contact with her - I loved watching how majestic she was from a distance, but I never felt the need to get to know her..I never knew the work involved in bonding with her. Until now. I can see Rose is much the same. She was used to being admired from a distance, and enjoyed people being at a distance - never made to do anything that made her uncomfortable, and free.... In her new life at the farm with me, she is asked to do some things she doesn't want to do - things that benefit her though, actually make her a good horse, a mentally healthy horse with a good sense of balance. The kind of things that I was not comfortable doing with her either. This is where the mirror comes in. Here I am, this fearless gal that has really never pushed her limits. Now I can say that is not true. I have teared up (yes really cried)  in my fears in the last week and been forced to face them with people that have been doing this type of training for decades - to be honest between the two that have really broken through my 'safety' walls, there is over 75 years of combined professional experience behind them. They are my accountability. That and the drive in me that I have always had to never give up once I have started something. The mirror to my soul has shown me the truth about my fears, the secret fight to hide it (in never putting myself in the position to show it), and the urge to keep going. Rose and I are both involved in some deep schooling and I cannot wait to grow from this experience even more.

When strong sudden storms threaten to rattle your foundation that you've worked so hard to build, it is time to look around at your friends and family, and hold tight. The storms will bring all the good things closer, and make more obvious the things you need to let go of.... Fear of the unknown was one of those things for me and now, I am letting go a little at a time.... like life itself, most things we will never have control over. All we can do, is react to those things in a way that doesn't disrupt our peace. This is what builds character. This is what builds confidence. These are lessons I needed to learn.

The night after daddy died, there was a halo around the moon. I suddenly remembered how much he loved astronomy. He bought me my first telescope. I still have an old astrology book he gave me that he had as a small boy. I look up regularly at the night sky from my hammock after doing the animal chores, and some nights the stars seem to shine so much brighter - the 200 BILLION stars that we know of, and it brings me such comfort, to be reminded that I was brought up to appreciate the mysteries of life, not be afraid of them. As we get older, our experiences make us fearful. There is so much more to life, and by boxing ourselves up because of certain fears, we may never see the beauty in the unknowns. I need this reminder regularly because it is much easier said than done.

My eyes have opened wider to the good that the hearts around me are doing. I am seeing things so much clearer, and I am realizing that there is nothing you can't conquer when family and friends have your back. Sometimes I'll have no options. Sometimes, there is only one choice, and I have to be ok with that. Sometimes, I will NEVER figure it out. I have learned to adapt to a lot of change in the last year, and there isn't one thing that has happened that didn't cause positive growth.... I cannot tell you how many times in the last year I have asked myself,  "What am I DOING??"  and each time I grew a little trying to figure it out.... :)  Our existence is not about control, but about how we can imagine the world. It is when we come face to face with raw nature, that our own strengths are revealed to us, most times surprising us. This has been a lesson learned most in dealing with Rose. Every being has a will. A way. It is through building character, that we can work together and figure it out together, but only by stepping out of the comfort zone.....


what's with all the white?

I have noticed a trend in the last few years that I just do not understand. Stark white interiors.... I know it is my own opinion, and everyone has one, but I cannot seem to figure this one out. White walls, while very appropriate for showcasing ART such as in a museum, just don't seem very ... 'home-y'.... all I can see when people are showing off their white interiors are OCD cleaners, sterile environments, and borrrrrrrrring rooms. Yawn. A lot of these people are artistic - well most of them are, and I consider myself artistic and creative as well, so what am I missing?

Black and white photos, paintings, and other arts are great in b+w because they have a depth to them, but these rooms and home interiors... just confuse me. Mommy blogs especially. As a blogger I read a lot of blogs and these 'hip' moms who obviously are able to be stay at home, full time cleaning women seem to spend more time cleaning their homes than actually living (by the looks of their homes) in them. What kid can actually BE a kid in this kind of setting?

While I do not have children, I was one once, and if we had white rugs or carpet or walls, my poor mom wouldn't have been able to keep it for long! Water coloring splatters, juice, slinging off muddy shoes, and all the proper tools for learning just don't seem to fit in an all white interior.

Color enhances mood. Moods, whatever they are, are indeed colorful. People are colorful, so I am stumped.

Every home I have lived in has been painted various colors. Each room different. I have yet to paint our current home because there hasn't been any time, really - and it is something I so desperately cannot WAIT to do! Yes, I live on a farm. We have an area for the muck boots. I could NEVER keep up with a white home, but I am curious as to the attraction.

Even cream colors, beige, and very light pastels are more interesting than WHITE. Give me natural wood textures, bright walls, and b+w art on a colored wall any day over feeling like I can't actually 'live' fully in a stark white room. Any insight or explanation of this trend is welcome, because I would love to be able to understand it. I can completely understand a white accent wall to showcase art maybe, but an all white room or rooms..... leaves me confused. Is it because it is easier to repaint? Is it because there isn't a whole lot of thought going into the exact shade?


here and there....

I have been slowly learning and getting to know the nature of horses at a pace I could keep up with. A pace that would allow me to slowly overcome my fears in general of horses. Now it is time for another step. This time from someone that comes highly recommended in the horse world and has a reputation of being "the best this side of the Mississippi". He trains horses in a style that is gentle and not fear-based. I am hoping he trains people that way too ;) , but I had him come out yesterday to assess Rose and she did well. She is getting some extra schooling this week. I will start my extra schooling on Friday. Yip!


Sunday Sweet Stuff!!

Today's sweet treat is a coffee cake. This was Christian's idea and it turned out pretty good! 

Ingredients for batter:
1 1/2 sticks softened butter
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 C sour cream
2 Cups + 3 tbs GF flour OR All purpose flour - NOT SELF RISING.
5 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Ingredients for streusel:
1/4 C light brown sugar
1/2 C all purpose (or GF) flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbs COLD butter, sliced
3/4 C chopped walnuts or nut of your choice - I had no nuts, so mine was nutless ;)

First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10 inch bundt pan or similar....
I had to grind my very coarse turbinado sugar (it was all I had on the spot) into a finer granulated sugar.....

Mix together the softened butter and sugar for a few minutes, then add your eggs one at a time and mix an additional minute, and then add the vanilla and sour cream....
 ...then I mixed up the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.....
Then add the flour mixture to the sugar and butter mixture until just combined and finish stirring with a wooden spoon to ensure it's all mixed well....
For the streusel, put all the ingredients in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it resembles this:
The rest has no pictures because I was distracted ... oops! But here is how you put it together: pour out half of your cake batter in pan and sprinkle about half of the streusel on top, then the rest of the batter and top with the remaining streusel. Bake for 50 min to an hour or more, just start checking with a toothpick around 50 min....

 .......annnnnnnnnd now time to taste this sweetness..... wow! Sweet-stuff OVERLOAD - but so good!!


my losses and gains. an attempt to put into words.....

I have always been pretty good at making the most out of a bad situation. I guess it comes from being raised in a family that refused to never give up. As the one year anniversary of my dad's sudden departure from this life approaches, I can reflect on what happened, and what came out of that situation. There is a lot of good that has come from that day. Yes, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't have a million questions about why it happened, and why he's not here, and what were the reasons for him to make some of the decisions he made that day, and how such a freak accident occurred. As my brother said to me, "Sandi, it was just his time." And it was. I would like to explain - or at least make an attempt to explain how through such a great loss, I have somehow managed to come out the other end of it feeling grateful and richer in life than ever before.... all those little things, little memories, have now been made huge moments that I will never forget....that experience forced me to take the reigns of a situation that removed me from my comfortable little life I created for myself, and take control of how I react to the unknown things ahead.... Because I am still trying to put into words how I feel, I am warning you that this post will probably bounce around all corners of the world before I get to the end...It is how I work through things, so you are just going to have to deal....

I remember that night, just hours after his death, the topic of conversation was his animals. He was gone, his children were still here, and it was up to us to figure it all out. We were all faced with these living creatures that also lost their human. At the same time, we wanted to make a decision that would leave us feeling like we did what daddy would have wanted. At the time ideas were thrown around that Eddie would go to one place, someone knew someone who knew of a place where Rose could go, and the cat had no one offering up ideas for her. The next few days, we would be able to feed, and care for them a little, but had more pressing things to deal with. Luckily my dad had just gotten a load of hay, so the horse was easy. 

Less than a week after my dad died, I made the decision to move into the home that he and my little sister shared (she is a teen), and allow her to finish out the school year in an environment that she was comfortable in. My thoughts were that she had already lost her dad - her only constant in the last several years, and the last thing I wanted to do was to take her home from her (it was not paid for and there was no money to keep it), AND take her friends away all at once. Her survivor benefits covered the mortgage until she finished out the school year, and I commuted two hours each way to work. After the school year, she moved in with her other sister (my ex step-sister), who has been able to provide her with such an amazing complete family that my sister never really had. All of her siblings were grown when she was born, so she was raised pretty much as an only child, and then when her mother and my dad divorced, it was always a single parent situation, whether she was visiting her mom, or home with my dad. I am so thankful that she is in a home with two parents, and they also have two children, so I really can't be more excited about her being part of a real family. She is thriving, and doing well in school, and we spend time with each other whenever possible. 

Now back to the subject of the animals..... so during this time, I was able to care for all the animals and they got to live at their home for a few more months while I was there.....

After school was finished, it was time to hit the ground running and find a good home for everyone. We had to let the house go unfortunately and CiCi the cat, found a temporary foster at a great home.  I was coming to terms with the fact that the only way I could ensure Eddie (a senior old boy) and Rose (my dad's baby) had a good home, was to take them in myself. Eddie and Rose were pasture mates, so I put them both in one of my goat paddocks and let all the goats hang together in one paddock instead of splitting them up. I had no background with horses whatsoever, and my only experience with Rose was just being at my dad's those four months after his death. I was actually not interested in horses at all before the time I spent with Rose at my dad's, but she grew on me and really helped my through that time, as odd as it sounds. Rose has now been here since Father's Day weekend, 2015, and that was planned as a way to give my daddy a gift his first Father's Day in heaven. I hustled to make that happen and it was my first ever experience trailering a horse. All went well and she has been healthy and happy here for almost 7 months, but not without a tremendous amount of support....During that first month of having Rose, I reached out to a Facebook acquaintance (that ran a horse rescue) for advice. She offered to give me handling lessons that would keep me safe and she became a very close friend and confidant in the process.

Eddie has since become an indoor spoiled rotten boy. Complete with toys, sweaters, treats, and lots of cuddling. It has been a real treat for everyone to be able to spoil him and give him a life like he has never known before and in turn it warms my heart to know that my daddy gets to see a side of Eddie that he never saw before - I feel my dad with me a lot, and I get little signs of his approval often.

Cici, was unable to find that perfect forever home while in her temporary foster home, so my awesome mom and stepdad decided to take her in. She too is living a very spoiled life!

All in all, I have learned tons in the year following my dad's passing. I have learned to love things that once scared me - I faced my fears and have grown tremendously in the process. This year has transformed me in ways I will never be able to put into words. I've been broken and put back together again. I got stronger from it all. I have learned about letting go, and moving on. Life goes on for the ones that are left after death. The last year was hard, devastating, packed with anxieties, self reflection, growth, overcoming fears, forgiveness, overwhelming joys, and eventually coming out on top. The realities of life did not sugar coat anything for me, and had no problem giving it to me straight. I was pushed around, deceived, manipulated, and almost emptied of all my bright light, but I came through it all stronger, brighter, and more enlightened. I have a newfound optimism inside me that is burning bright and a creativity that I have not felt in years. It all happened, it was all real, and I had to grow from it. I love my daddy and will always miss him, but I know that it was as my brother says, "just his time". Now it is mine. My time to shine!


friday finds

here are a couple of this week's Friday finds.... and I actually found all of these at a thift store - no yard sale items from this go round...

I got an awesome flannel gown.... I love long flannel gowns because not only are the warm, but they are perfect to roll out of bed and tend to the animals morning chores in. Yes, when you live in the sticks, this is something you look out for!

a Levi's denim jacket - it fits PERFECTLY and the sleeves are long enough!! 

this beautifully detailed wool coat...

some pretty material....

I also got a pair of Banana Republic jeans (that I am currently wearing and trying to decide whether or not I want to make a long skirt from them), and adorable red jacket that I brought back to the office for my co-worker, Jeannie, and a vintage high-waisted denim skirt that someone had started to alter, but never finished. I am going to see if I can piece it back together, and if/when I do, I will show it off here!


want/ need/ hear/ read

(click image for more info)

I am a little obsessed with the look of these glass kettles. My tendency for being a klutz in the kitchens however, will keep me from buying one. I feel very lucky that my Chemex coffee maker is still around... We actually DID have to replace one, but it wasn't my fault ;)


I feel like I need a way to have more time, but in reality, things will fall into place so that everything will find it's own little space.... There is a ton of exciting new things I am involved in so early in the new year, and it has been a little bit of a challenge to figure out where to spend any free time I have. I do have my hands in several pots at the moment, and am having a hard time pushing any ideas to the side. I don't think I am gonna scrap anything just yet, but more time to devote to the things would be AWESOME and the time change in the Spring will definitely help out with that a lot!
and I just love this song, and am still shocked that there will be no more new material from him... what an inspiration to us all to be different, weird, and kind....
This is an all around good book to have on hand 'just in case' you ever need it. Ha! I am going to attempt to learn how to do a little canning this year (hopefully, that is if my garden grows.....) and other ways of preserving food. I actually got this book at "Ollie's' in Athens for $6, but you can also purchase the exact same book online at Amazon HERE if you aren't near Athens...


meatless meals....in a pinch!

One of my New Year's goals was to eat less meat. I used to be a terribly picky eater - I was a force to reckon with when Christian and I first got together over 16 years ago! Thank goodness for his encouragement to try new things, but now in my golden years (ha!), I am appreciating more foods. Vegetables in particular, and we both decided to cut back on the meat this year. These are a few quick lunch ideas for my rushed break in coming home and letting out Eddie midday.

Country cheesy eggs with steamed asparagus and grits: 
(I used to love capturing Baby in my dessert photos, so Eddie gets to have his turn now!)
The grits I made the day before, and the asparagus I threw in a pan and let steam while I walked Eddie around the yard. By the time I came back in, it was done and the eggs took no time to scramble.

Baked potato with brussel sprouts and tofu, topped with nutritional yeast. 
The baked potato was nuked for about 7 minutes in the microwave while I walked Eddie, and the brussel sprouts were left over from the day before. The tofu was quick and easy to prepare and crisp up, then topped with nutritional yeast before piling it on the baked potato.


kiss a ginger day!

So, anyone that keeps up with this blog knows that my guy is totally evasive when it comes to social media, but he DOES exist and he IS a ginger, and today he DID get a kiss! I bought him a coffee & doughnut and stopped by the Low YoYo Stuff Records after I got off work and made sure to lay one on him ;) The only semi proof I have is this advertisement to stop by and get your fill of Bowie vinyl.


David Bowie.... Monday Mixtape

Farewell to the icon that made the children of the 80s like myself, excited about being different. Thank you for being such an inspiration to us all. I was thrilled about the new album, and it saddens me that there will be no new writing from you. Is there life on Mars? I believe so now ;) RIP David Bowie.


timing is everything...

It's a new year, and I cannot believe I am coming up on being at this house for TWO YEARS! Aside from my New Year's goals, I have some other things that I plan on diving into. Some are top secret and will be revealed at a later date, and some are just things like finish setting up for my Spring garden that I started last January, but failed to finish because of the unfortunate circumstances of last winter. I do want to get back into a more regular 'Sweet Stuff Sunday' posting routine again, but I kindof ran out of ideas.... In 2014, I had 52 different desserts posted - all gluten free. We will see what 2016 brings....

The saying 'timing is everything' has proven to be true - especially this year so far. The end of last year, things seemed to come together in a way that set a foundation for what is to come.. Things that I had not even realized were a dream, have appeared (or reappeared) to set in motion things that have inspired me to be super creative. There is a perfect balance of new in with the old, and there is a type of harmony in my life that I haven't experienced in quite some time.

I am finally adjusting to the ebb and flow of life at my farm, and soon we will be adding a foster horse. I am so excited to be able to see my Rose frolicking in the field with a pal when the wind blows a certain way, or when she just feels spunky. She loves the cows next door, so this will be fun to watch!


the farm gets ready for our first foster!

....so...... short post, but I am SUPER duper excited! I will be taking in a foster horse before Summer!!! Rose will finally have a little lady friend to hang with. Things to do, fences to erect, and soon I will have Hazel at the farm as the next new star! Now, I move Rose every evening into the field with the goats, just because she seems more comfortable with company in her field. After this new addition, she will permanently be in the big field with her new companion! Eli is going to miss getting into trouble by playing with Rose's things....
 I will post updates about Miss Hazel as the time nears! Eeeeeeeeek! 


friday frugal finds... (new segment!!!)

this is a new segment where I post my thrifty finds from time to time. 

I gravitate towards vintage floral patterned sheets. We have a king sized bed, and I have managed to get lucky enough to find beautiful sheets that barely cost anything! I have made light curtains out of some sheets, but for the most part, I just like the way they look and usually never leave a thrift store without a few sheets.
This Miss Elliette dress. Wow. It is in immaculate condition....and hot pink! (thrifted)

This sweet green vintage desk lamp... (yard sale)

these socks. hand crocheted and sooooo warm! (thrifted)

..A set of these chairs. They were on clearance at Target. I spotted these cool things first at my friend Jen's house. Very unique and when I asked her about them, she told me where to get them for a steal! 

a couple of badass vintage leather coats (thrifted). They look like they came from last season's Fargo wardrobe. Definitely look like Mike Milligan and the Kitchen Brothers attire!  I gave one to my sister-in-law, and have these three left. I haven't decided if I am going to keep one for myself, or sell them in my store.
...annnnnd last but not least, this white faux fur vintage coat (thrifted)!


steps in the right direction.....

 I have been super excited to get my sewing back on track and get things in order for what I believe to be the best year yet! So many stars are aligning to make super optimistic about the upcoming year! I got a new sewing machine - an old Singer Classic, and I LOVE it! SO far I have repaired or altered 12 pieces of clothing that I haven't been able to wear in YEARS! My favorite 'lucky red coat' that I was wearing when I met Christian is now able to be worn again! It's been in pieces for at least 5 years!!!
I actually carried ol' 85 pound Eddie up the stairs (he is too scared to walk up the stairs himself), so he could hang with me while I worked :) Boy, do I love this fella!