Martha might have been right

I’m a self proclaimed HGTV addict. For as little TV as I watch, I will tune into any home improvement, decorating or DIY show. Even with this vice, I have never grasped on to any of Martha Stewart’s shows. While I envy her for her organizational tendencies, I just don’t have her same style preferences. I lean towards a more eclectic, rustic look and it simply doesn’t fit into her mold most of the time. Her shows have also always made me feel like was being talked at by a pretentious party hostess from 1992. Hey look at me, I can work away from home, keep my house clean, make great food and NEVER air my dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively.  I’ve always quickly changed the channel thinking, I’d love to see what that chick really does when the cameras stop rolling. It would make for so much better entertainment.

I’m late to the game on this one, but a month or so ago many well-known bloggers were posting about Martha’s laughable and berating comments in an interview with Bloomberg News wherein she stated that bloggers, “are not the experts.”  Taken at face value, she might be right. Most bloggers out there are not in fact ‘trained editors of Vogue magazine’ or certifiable culinary geniuses.  Although I do have to disagree with her when she accused their recipes of not being tested. What does she think happens after people read their posts? I have been on the testing end of many recipes I’ve found on the internet, and while some have been major fails, that is how I know that I will never use that particular recipe again.  That said, I’ve had the same experience with a couple recipes out of my Betty Crocker cookbook, and let’s just say that I don’t blame Betty for it.

What was so funny about Martha’s interview was that it seemed to infer that every blogger out there who writes about some random craft they created, room they decorated or piece of furniture they transformed should refrain from hitting publish until they have formal training in such topics. Although, isn’t that what draws us to certain bloggers in the first place? The fact that they are real people trying to do things that we’d like to try, all while sharing their experiences about the process. It makes us feel like we can accomplish similar tasks, without first getting all crazy and going out to get formal training. I’m willing to bet that Martha does not share my affinity with Pinterest.

I say all this to tell you that when I first saw Martha’s interview, I didn’t even care enough to come up with some witty commentary.  And then there I was this past Sunday afternoon, on a very rare occurrence where I was alone in my house for several hours. The boys were out hunting and my Dad had picked up the girls. As is the norm for me in times like these, my thoughts immediately went to any pending DIY projects I might have in the queue.

I had found this small mirror in my late grandmother’s house. It was left behind after everyone had come and picked out their heirlooms.  I think the frame is plastic. It is seriously nothing special, but I saw some potential.

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Dude. I can’t even remember to take a ‘before’ photo. LAME.

All I wanted to do was shabby it up a bit with some white paint so it didn’t look so dark. Rather than go the crafter-approved route and grab a paint brush and then wipe off any areas I wanted to show through, I grabbed a paper towel instead. Which is precisely the point where I thought, Martha so would not approve of this.

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Do not try this at home.

…and the verdict is: I probably should have pulled out a paint brush. It’s not spectacular, but it does its job I suppose.

The beauty is that while I have NO notable crafting skills whatsoever, I still haven’t quit trying. My desires to rearrange, redecorate and redo might drive my husband crazy, but I feel my best when I’m ‘creating’ (let’s use that term loosely) especially without spending any money. Fortunately for me, I doubt Martha will be stopping by any time soon.

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The end of an era

Back in the 80’s, a contractor built a home for his family. While it is a small house with tiny rooms and an even tinier living area, it has loads of character. I grew up in this very community and vividly remember when the house was built. We would drive by and as a child I would think about how cool it would be to live in this darling home one day. You just didn’t see houses built in the 80’s that had this kind of charm.

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The builder went so far as to adorn the cute little house with antique light fixtures, reclaimed wood flooring and other older items, that may or may not have qualified as valuable antiques.  From what we’ve heard, he was trying to be period correct, to give the appearance of an early 20th century farmhouse. Of course they had to also install modern amenities to make the home functional. The result was a lovely little farmhouse with a combination of what we’ve been told were unique, antique fixtures and others that were clearly purchased in 1988.  We are family friends with the 2nd owners of the home, who legitimately sold the house to the 3rd owners. They have told us several stories of the updates they did to the house and tricks to the irrigation system. It’s amazing how in a couple years of the 3rd owners living there, things could so drastically change.

Back in 2008 when we purchased this property I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures of what we started with, mainly because, well, I didn’t have an iPhone. So let me paint you a picture.

We bought the house as a foreclosure, and when the most recent owners left, they stripped out nearly all of the light fixtures and the stove. Because that’s what you do when you lose a home to the bank these days.

They were thoughtful enough to leave us with a few of the fixtures that were clearly specials from 1988 such as this; one of the few we have still not replaced to this day.
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Interestingly enough, our loan would not fund if the home had any exposed wires from missing fixtures, so with the help of our real estate agent, we broke in and quickly installed the cheapest light fixtures we could get our hands on and proceeded to paint the majority of the inside while we were at it. These are stories I probably shouldn’t disclose on the internets, but to be real, it was situations just like this that were caused by the crash of the housing market. I have to think that there were others out there buying up cheap houses and breaking in to do quick updates in order to fund their loans. Anyone?

There was, however, one lovely “antique” that was left behind. Let’s call her Gertrude.
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Gertrude was clearly not my favorite thing about my new home.  I never said “Wow! An antique toilet! Now that tops my list of must haves!” But she also was not on the top of our list of upgrades because 1) she functioned and 2) she was located upstairs in our master bathroom, rarely seen by anyone but Ponch and myself.

Over time, we replaced the gnarly tile counter tops in the kitchen, painted a couple more rooms and bought some fixtures that were more to our liking.  We were also forced to do some more practical upgrades like replacing the air conditioning ducts and fixing some old plumbing problems. Then I starting popping out babies, so we unconsciously put the renovations on hold for awhile. Like how I compare the first couple years of having kids back to back to being unconscious?  Oh I was upright and breathing most days along with navigating motherhood the best that I could, but that was it. Anything more would have sent me over the edge.

Over the years, I’ve ever so gently prodded Ponch with the fact that we needed to replace Gertrude, but she’s been so faithful and there was always something more pressing that needed fixing. I also had the thought of ‘how do you get rid of an antique toilet’? Do you try to sell it on Craigslist or do you just haul it to the dump? That is until this last week when she took her last gulp and all of parts inside her wall mounted tank essentially imploded on themselves. For some reason, I now have no problem with sending her to the dump. No pun intended. Because now we have this:
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And it is glorious. So, great in fact, I don’t even think it needs to be named.

Farewell Gertrude. Thank you for being with us on the first 5 years of home ownership. May you rest in peace.

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On traveling with toddlers and pinterest addictions.

Last month, Ponch was out of town on a work trip for two weeks. I’m fairly sure it has taken me all month to recover from this brief window in time as a single mom of two toddlers, but things are getting better. Although I have to admit, that I tend to impart the punishment upon myself. When the hubs goes out of town I get all these harebrained ideas that I am going to conquer every DIY and home improvement project that resides on the list in my head. While this behavior does not involve narcotics or frivolous shopping sprees, it does lean towards the unhealthy side. Why? Because I stay up well past midnight every night in order to complete my insanely unnecessary to do list while staying on top of the laundry after the kids are in bed. Sleep deprivation is not ok for this mama. Darn you Pinterest.

Let me back up a bit.

Because we are glutton for punishment, the weekend before Ponch left, we packed up all three kids and drove five and half hours into the Nevada dessert to a little place called Battle Mountain. My younger cousin was getting married and I was not about to let a little thing called the Teeth-Gnashing-Threes (TGT) keep us away from the celebration. If you’ve ever survived a head strong three year old, you know about TGT and how it can make you want to ball up in the corner with a bottle of wine at the end of the day. This excursion came exactly one month after we all traveled 3 hours to my other cousin’s wedding — I have a lot of cousins. Unfortunately, we didn’t do nearly enough preparation for the 3 hour trip. We left the girls’ car seats next to each other to let Logan sit by the door, we didn’t plan for enough toddler-car activities and we forgot the iPad. I know. HOW COULD YOUR FORGET THE iPAD? and HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS GOOD DID FAMILIES TRAVEL BEFORE ELECTRONIC DEVICES WERE CABLE OF BABYSITTING THE CHILDREN? Needless to say, the girls beat on each other half of the time and screamed bloody murder the other half. No one napped. No one sat quietly and colored or read a book. It was LOADS of fun, I tell you. Ponch mentioned several times that we were ‘never taking our children anywhere, ever again.’ The absolute best part was knowing that after the drive down, we would have to turn around and do it again the next day when we came home.

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This is why we do it…no actual champagne was given to children

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Fast forward to the Battle Mountain road trip and there we were again. Same people, same truck and off to see the same cowboys, celebrating the way that only cowboys can. In an effort to avoid the “We are never going anywhere again” comments, I worked hard on the preparations for this trip. I separated the carseats and brainstormed every toddler appropriate car activity I could. I packed an entire utility tote full of coloring pads, Matching Alphabet Pole notebooks for doodling, etch-a-sketchesque contraptions, toy horses, DVD players and of course the iPad. Oh and don’t forget this Pinterst win from Test Yet Trying. It kept Kinley occupied for a full 20 minutes, which made it worth its weight in gold. There goes that darn Pinterest again, keeping me hooked until the next time I find myself drowning in sea of craft supplies.

The good news was, the trip to Battle Mountain completely redeemed our confidence in our ability to travel with small children. I’m keeping my confidence in check though, because there’s just no telling what challenges lie ahead for the next major excursion.

Unfortunately I returned home convinced that I could win at Pinterest and end world hunger.  At least I can rest peacefully knowing that I painted that old, empty Crown Royal bottle that has been patiently awaiting my attention in the laundry closet for two years.

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Helping mom paint the whiskey bottle. She even has my crazy eyes.

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The before of the kitchen shelf

The before of the kitchen shelf

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The after. With some rearranging still to do.

Now on to painting those lovely pine cabinets. Ha ha. Ha. Ha.

Kid tales.

We recently visited my brother and his wife at their lovely home during their annual calf branding weekend.

Of course when we stay there, Laney usually ends up in bed with us and Kinley gets a comfy mattress on the floor to sleep on. It must seem a lot like camping to her because as I was laying next to her one night, right before she went to sleep, she says:

“Uncle Joe’s house is a lot like a camp trailer.  And that is really confusing.”

Poor kid.

Uncle Joe’s house in no way resembles a camp trailer by the way. If only we could see through the eyes of the three year old.

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Guess Who’s Two?

Dear Laney,

At this time, two years ago, I was in the midst of the toughest labor I could imagine. Since your sister nearly flew out, I was sure you’d do the same, but you had other plans my dear. You must have been pretty comfy in there because you certainly did not want out when it was time. You finally did, at your own speed and not the way I had exactly planned, but I’ve come to find out that some of the best things in life don’t happen the way we plan.

Your birth and the days that followed were a whirlwind. Grandma Grace went into the hospital after getting to meet you just once at one day old. Uncle Joe and Aunt Annie got married at your one week mark and we traveled to Sierraville to stay in a quaint little cabin and join the festivities. Grandma Grace went to heaven the following week and we had a funeral in Loma Rica and then drove five hours for the memorial service in Adin. By week three, you were very well traveled. We didn’t mention this to your pediatrician, who probably would not have approved. We were so glad that Grandma Grace was able to meet you once and hold you. She would have loved to watch you and your sister grow up.

You are are such a kind, sweet and funny little girl. You wake up in the morning with a smile, give us all kisses and then demand to watch your “cowboy movie.” I love it when you tease your dad and I with a good game of peek a boo and when you peak down from the stairway and say “I see you”. Every now and then you’re a little rough with your friends at daycare, but sometimes Sissy is a little rough with you. It’s something we’re working on. Even though you get a little fiesty, you still amaze me with your kindness and loving spirit. You already know how to share and you do so even when Sissy is testing your patience.

I love to watch you conquer new challenges. I was shocked to learn that you knew how to ride a tricycle like a pro and now you can even ride your scooter. Miss Teri has even informed me that you like to pedal your trike while pulling the other kids behind you. We’re not sure how those little legs have that much power!

We are so excited to watch you grow. We’d like you to stay little forever, but since that can’t happen we hope that you are always just as loving (and as tough) as you are right now. Kindness and toughness can take you a long way and help you to accomplish anything you set out to do. Whoever you grow to be, I know you’ll be amazing!

Happy Birthday and we love you Lou Lou.

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Vacay

We often joke that we don’t take a vacation that doesn’t involve work, even if it is cow work. We visit family in Modoc County or Sierra Valley, both beautiful places that we love to frequent, but it usually involves branding calves, hauling bulls or feeding cows. And we’re good with that. It is nice though to be able to take a quick break from our world.

At the beginning of June we did get the chance to visit Lake Tahoe with my parents. As a child, this was where we always took our Summer vacations as a family, so I was full of nostalgia. I was so happy to share some of the same experiences with my kids that I had as a child on the Tahoe shore.

Upon arrival, we started off with a friendly round of miniature golf.

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My mom and dad took the girls swimming before breakfast in the mornings. It was lovely. Ponch and I were even able to escape for a quick kayak expedition.

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Laney thoroughly enjoyed covering herself in sand from head to toe every chance she got.

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Apparently this was Kinley’s first ice cream in a cone (according to her). She didn’t realize she could eat the cone. It was very exciting!

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And everyone is tuckered out. That’s how you know you had a good vacation.

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CDR cows

Over the busy Memorial Day weekend we also managed to get our cows moved to their Summer pasture. We weaned the older calves from their mothers and turned them out in their own pasture. Come this fall, we’ll have a new set of babies on the ground.

I didn’t catch many pictures, as I was right in the middle of it all; sorting cows and chasing kids.

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Lovies

We’ve been on the road more than normal lately. I may end up being a bad blogger, but I have to work it in after being mommy and the old 9-5, or 7:30-4:00 in my case.

An important update:

J may affectionately be referred to as Ponch from here on out. This is a trial run to see how it goes. With this kind of change I can’t be expected to be fully committal at this point.

And a few of my favorite photos as of late. How can you not want to kiss these cheeks?

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