Monday, October 3, 2011

One Day = 15 Hours

Steve and I recently at the Paris themed fundraiser Ball for the hospital.

Steve and I usually have a time every morning when we sit down and tell each other what we have going on for the day. It helps us plan out what we have to do and it lets the other one know in advance what we are thinking the day should look like. If we don't do this most days we know we are headed for disaster! Because of what we do for a living, every single day looks different. Steve teaches for 5 different Universities online, and one in person on Tuesdays. I have the goat milk soap business and am doing different things with it each day. I also homeschool the boys, cook, sew, straighten the house, check the garden, collect the eggs, and oversee that the animals get what they need when they need it. It makes for a crazy day and sometimes I don't know which way is up.

This morning Steve, the boys, and I went for an hour long walk in the parking lot of the grocery store down the street. We are lucky to live so close to Ingle's if we need a quick trip to the store, or to pick up creamer for tomorrow morning's coffee, but lately I thought, what about walking there? It's close, paved, there is a section no one drives in, and it's free! We decided to make it our fun time most mornings before we get the day started. Steve and I were talking about how busy we are with a multitude of things and I wondered if it was healthy to be so driven. I mean we each have half a dozen things we love to do, plus the things we have to do in a day. We are also very competitive in our hobbies. Steve said we probably couldn't be us without our drive. That's just the way God made us and we wouldn't be happy just sitting around waiting on the day to end. I agreed. I do wish I had about 10 more hours in the day. It would help me get finished with all those half done projects waiting to be finished.

Now that we have a 4th and a 6th grader the kid gloves are off with homeschooling. Dorian has math, grammar, vocabulary, history, science, Latin, Spanish, art, and homeschool band. Isaac has math, history, theology, literature, Latin, grammar, vocabulary, Spanish, science, homeschool band, art, and writing. That in itself takes up most of the day. With Dorian entering 4th grade, it's a milestone that pushes him into big boy work. Lots of books = lots of work and extra reading. With Isaac we are entering the realm of Middle School...que the scary music!! Who doesn't think of Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Even though we homeschool, the work load is pretty scary. He starts off the day with his subjects and usually finishes after supper. We have to find a peaceful middle ground. You know why? Cause that's how we roll! I want them to do good with testing, but more importantly I want them to long to gain information. That's one reason we homeschool. Information is power and it helps you have a fulfilled life. We want them to know what they believe and why they believe it with religion. We want them to be hard workers and problem solvers. We want them to work with their hands. But they have to want to do all these things. There's a fine line between working them to death and spuring them on. LOL! So this part of our lives continue to be tweaked for now.

When we were walking this morning, I realized something that I've known all along. I can only do so much in a day. I get up and start doing and at some point it gets to be bedtime and like it or not, I will be laying down to sleep. What I do with my day is what I get done. I can have a list, but what I check off for that day will be all I will ever use that time for. When it's gone, it's gone! It won't come around again. I am acutely aware of this with the change of each season. As I'm out in the garden looking over all the things we have grown for the year it hits me: There isn't any more time and now it's Fall. It will be next year before we can begin again. Each homeschool year is like that as well. We study what we study and learn what we learn and that's it. Each day that we put to bed is the end of a chapter in our lives. How did we do as a spouse, a mom, a daughter, son, father, whatever? Did we make it count? Did we love those around us so passionately that they long to be with us? Did we do the little extras that make people feel welcome as they spend time with us? Did we do something for ourselves? Something really fun? Did we laugh? Did we rejoice in the fact that we had enough to eat, and somewhere to lay our heads, and a healthy, happy family? In the end, it's just lists and hours. We do what we can, making every moment count, and lay our heads on the pillow looking forward to the next day. What will it hold in store for us? It's like a beautiful present just waiting to be opened. Sleep well my friends and unrap that gift tomorrow. It will be waiting for you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Food Triggers

LOL! I wanted to post the picture of me jumping over the fire at the finish line of the Warrior Dash, but since we are talking about food triggers I guess this one is more appropriate. I was in my car a few days ago and we were headed into town. All of the sudden I got the urge to eat a drive thru breakfast bisquit. Just out of the blue. Where did that come from??? I had just eaten breakfast before I left the house. I wasn't even hungry. I can't even remember where I was headed now (old age) but at the time I remember thinking this is a food trigger. It comes up on you when you are headed out to do something you would normally associate with eating. I guess if you were stressed or not thinking or tired or whatever else, you might just pull in and numb the darn trigger. But it got me thinking. How many times a day do we get these epic mental flatulations? How many times do we simply ignore them or stop them in their tracks and how many times do we just give in? I suppose this would be one of those times when a little baggie of celery just won't cut it so redirecting wouldn't help.

Like the other night. Steve was a little cabin feverish so I suggested we go to Ingle's the grocery store around the corner from us. We needed a few items and it was late, but hey it would be fun. While we were in there, Steve said, "I need something snacky." So I said, "Sweet or Savory." Hoping it would be savory and we could indulge together cause that's what I was craving! Dorian suggested we get a pizza - Hello we shot that one down quick. Then Steve expressed that he could eat a whole package of Oreos and get him out of the store quick. Isaac, my ever thoughtful offspring said, "You know, we have all that frozen fruit at home, and we are buying some Greek yogurt, we could make something with that at home." Brilliant, my little star of the evening!!! What would we do without him:) I quickly checked out and got Steve home before he could do any damage to the cookie aisle.

After I got home from Fitness Ridge my mind was so programed to only eat what I knew I could have. As I have been home and around more foods, it is harder to stay away from things that tempt me. But, I have made a discovery. I now know when I'm being tempted and I know the kinds of things that tempt me. Big Cheez Its...can I get an amen? I know they swear it's the same recipe as those dried up scrawny sized ones, but I think not! So much big cheese flavor I can't help myself, so I have vowed to stay away. Cheese in general. If I believed in reincarnation it would be impossible for me to have been anything other than a rat in a previous life. Sauces, OK, Chef helped me with this one. Substitution and moderation right. I've done good with this one since sauce is one of those things that life is worth living for (especially the green chili sauce!) Sour cream - always buying the Light one now. And steak??? You bet ya! I love a juicy steak. I would do without meat for a week to get one. So that's pretty much it except for a little chocolate hit about once a month. That's also not so bad. At least I know what to stay away from when I go shopping. I try to stick to the outer perimeter of the grocery store. Veggies, fruits, meats, and dairy skipping the processed middle of the store. Nothing in the boxes that only appear to be food but are really some form of food wanna be.

Now for the food triggers. They come on when I am out running errands, because the old me would throw in a drive thru with my shopping. When we are going on a picnic. I prefer BoJangle's chicken to sandwiches, but that just make you feel like garbage. When we go to the movies the popcorn smell KILLS me. I try to remember to pop some at home and stuff it in a big purse. Come on, you know you've done it;)

What are your triggers? We all have different ones. Get out a piece of paper and write them down. Know when to expect them and be ready. I'm finding there are hidden ones that keep popping up from time to time. I am doing battle with these guys because it matters. I didn't bust my butt to lose all this weight for nothing. I want to continue doing well and feeding my family well and exercising. Eat less - Move more! And keep the finger off the trigger;)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Apron Strings

There's just something about sewing that gets your creative juices flowing. I just made a kilt for my husband and it lead me to pull out other items that needed to be repaired or tweaked or remade. I'm a sucker for fabric and I've even been known to buy clothing at Goodwill just because the fabric is wonderful. I buy wool sweaters there too and bring them home to felt them in the washer and dryer. It's exciting to see what you're going to get. No sweater is alike in the way it felts. Sometimes you luck up and get a wonderfully tight beautiful weave, and sometimes it's just so-so. Steve sometimes wonders what will become of all my sewing projects. I have a collection of finished my mind. One day there will be time for hours of cutting and sewing and altering. But for now I have to tackle the little projects. Like aprons.

I have become interested in creating aprons here lately. I find myself out in the yard with a dozen or so chicken and duck eggs or a handful of peppers or tomatoes in desparate need of a big pocket. I also tend to have wet hands and need a towel to wipe them dry, usually using my shorts...ugh!

Aprons lost their charm during the liberation of feminist movement. They were seen as a uniform of the socially opressed and utterly downcast woman who was destined to live out her life stuck in neutral on the homefront. I mean really, what could be more exciting than new found freedoms out there 'over the rainbow?' So the delicate apron was cast aside like a 70's bra burning and trampled under foot as women stampeded out to the work place in search of new found freedom.

I have been around long enough to see the apron come full circle. Freedom we got, empowerment we felt, but time marched on and a longing set in that women didn't expect. A longing for home and family. A longing for making their castle a beautiful place of rest and relaxation. Longing to nurture, to love, to be loved, and to grow up the children that God placed in our protection. I've have lived it all. I haved worked my way through school, and college, twice. I have had a promising career. I have created a stay at home business, homeschooled my kids for 7 years, changed diapers, driven the carpool, continued to grow as an artist, and the list goes on and on.

As empowered as I have felt in the workforce, nothing compares to keeping the home fires burning. Nothing is as fulfilling as putting nurishing meals on the table for my family and being there for them when they need me. I can't point to a single time in my life that I have been more excited about than right now. As I teach my children to read, write, reason, think on their own, and do math I have the satisfaction that I was the one who did that. As we raise our own meat, vegetables, and fruits it makes me see how great a responsibility this really is. As I care for our farm animals and grow them up from babies I love seeing the characters they become. So, here I am in the new millinium and I don my apron with pride. I even have an apron that belonged to my grandmother. It has hand smocking at the top and I wonder to what era in time that belongs. Who was president? What was the cost of gas? Was she pregnant? Did she string beans in it? Did she smock it herself or was it a gift from a crafty friend?

We also have a favorite apron in our family. When Steve and I were newly married we stopped on the way home from college one night for dinner. The place was Rocky Bobocky's Pizza in Atlanta. It was packed and we had to park around back. When we came out there was an apron laying in the mud by my door. Being poor, we were always on the lookout for roadside treasures. It took 7 washings to get all the mud out, but it is the most comfortable apron we have. It is white linen and worn to a wonderful softness. It's only fault: there isn't a pocket! Perhaps another project lies in it's destiny.

These days aprons are coming back with a vengence. They are frilly, classy, dressy, cozy, plain, for men, designer, and good enough to wear out on the town, not that I would;) I even saw some in a magazine that looked like cocktail dresses!

Aprons: on the rise, even in Urban settings, or so I hear. Long live the apron, and womanhood, and the need for big pockets. Long live those women who are still exploring the work place, and those who have found their way home. Long live choices that we didn't always have.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Weather Wonderful

I love going to the garden in the morning and seeing what I get. It's better than an Easter egg hunt.

Trimmed down the basil plants and hung them in herb bouquets from the line.

Cherry Cheesecake made lowfat and lowsugar with stewed cherries, Greek yogurt, stevia, and graham crackers.

We are currently getting a bumper crop of peppers.

Here are my basil bouquets ready to hang

All that basil from four plants. What a wonderful aroma.

Turkey sausage, collard, and black eyed pea stew. Ahearty and wonderfully filling CHEAP meal. 6 servings at about $6.

Baby ducks taking their first swim.

Around the farm, we get friends and strangers all the time coming by to learn how to milk. Our friend Tina being taught by my son, Isaac. Tina's family wants to get a milk goat for their farm.

Beautiful Rosemary.

Butternut Squash Lasagne. What could be better. It has a sage white sauce and cheese.

Rabbit stew; we raise our own rabbits. They are great roasted, grilled or in stew like this.

Loads and loads of pickled everything:)

That is a 26 quart pot full to overflowing with cucumbers.

some random veggies.

Our garden is in full swing. We are getting tomatoes, squash, basil, mint, oregano, sage, rosemary,zuchini, cucumbers, three kinds of peppers, cantalope, beans, watermelons, and onions. I love it when I have enough veggies that I can make pesto, salsa, pico de gallo, and salad dressing all in the same haul.

The Thankful Goat soap business is starting back onto full swing and it's almost time to gather together all the art for the county fair. We start back homeschooling next week. Where has the summer gone? Our lives are about to get busy with homeschool band, Scottish Highlander band, and art lessons. Latin DVDs will be heard in the mornings and computer Spanish in the afternoons. Still, life is good on Pretty Farm. Our goat girls will be loading into the truck to go be breed soon, and the cycle of life begins again.

Peaceful, that's where we are. Living life large. It's gooooood as Athena would say:)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Farmgirl Sisterhood

I'm Dawn Mathews and this blog is about me and a plot of land we call Pretty Farm. It's named after my goat, Athena, whose nickname is Pretty. This pic is of me in Ivins, Utah hiking the red canyons. What a beautiful place to spend a month.

This is one of our Pekin Ducks, Fluffy. You can see where she gets the name. We are also partial to Indian Runner Ducks.

I am holding one of our 14 chickens. Black is a Black Sex Link. I know, we need to get more original on the names, but when you have this many wandering around, well, you run out quickly:)

Athena is my bestie. She and I have a tried and true friendship and I love her so much. She really does understand us and loves us unconditionally.

She's also a snack hoarder! Tried to get my food everytime. Hey goat, what's that over there?
Baby bunnies are always exciting on the farm. We have one breeder buck and three does. The picture below is of my goat milk soap business The Thankful Goat. I sell goat milk soap, goat milk and honey lotion and body butters, massage oil, chapsticks, perfumes, shower gels, and sugar scrubs. Browse my selection at

The two pics above are of my goose, Agnes, when she was a baby and Steve my husband and my son, Isaac, processing out our meat chickens. Nothing tastes like a fresh steroid free bird.

Our Hera had just given birth to Perseus. I was helping him get his first bit of milk. Birthing goats is messy business.
But oh so rewarding. This is Athena with Lavender and Rosemary. We kept Rosemary (right) for expanding the herd this year.

Here are our breeding rabbits. The hutch is constructed to keep out the sun, rain, snow, and wind but let the fresh air through. They love the Rabbie Condo. And we love the free fertilizer. We also eat the rabbit meat. It has a better flavor than chicken.
Our first batch of spring ducks. Pekins, Indian Runners, and Hybrid 300s.

The Spring garden was a big producer. Cabbages, garlic, onions, lettuce, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, and swiss chard.
We do a big garden that holds all the pumpkins, watermelons, beans, corn, zuchini, tomatoes, and squash, but we make raised beds for the smaller plants. These are great gardens and produce like crazy!

I just recently joined a group called the Farmgirl Sisterhood. I found it in Mary Jane's Farm magazine and I'm so happy I joined. They help farmgirls like me be more prepared for life. If you like to farm and garden and just love making things, you would love this magazine and the Sisterhood. I even found two chapters of local members who get together and do things. You can learn how to sew, can, camp, conserve, and 100s more things and earn merit badges for doing them. That's why I started this blog. I want to see how many merit badges I can earn. So from time to time I'll be posting my projects on here. And in the process I'll be teaching you how to do new fun stuff. I can't wait to get started. If you want to learn more about the Farmgirl Sisterhood, check it out at

Busting at the Seams

Our new arrivals: Indian Runner, Pekin, and Cayuga ducks.

I love it when the post office calls and says, "Your shipment is in." It usually happens around 5:30 to 6:00 am and we rush off to the post office to retrieve our order. This week it was ducks. You have to order a minimum of 10 so I usually have a few for sale. People love ducks. They are one of the happiest creatures on the farm. They have great personalities and love to be around everyone. I hope we are never without them. Who wouldn't want a little quack in their lives to make it more merry:)