Sunday, June 29, 2014

Simple Things//Four Springs Hike

Simple things Sunday is about slowing down and capturing life’s everyday details. Today I'm joining in with the Simple Things blog and sharing a special moment from our week.

Today we went to church, then everyone, including myself took a nap. After we were all up, we packed a little picnic and headed out on a new adventure for our family, Four Springs Lake Reserve. It was the perfect place to hike with the kids and the scenery was beautiful. The old barns have been preserved from 1912 and the details were fascinating. Hiking with my family and enjoying this beautiful place in which we live is my favorite. 

What simple things have you enjoyed this week?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Berries for Days

Sometimes I love our community so much that I feel like I could just burst. This week has been filled with moments that make me want to give this little town that we live in a big love-squeeze. The other night, we closed out the evening with dinner on the beach. This gorgeous beach is the same one that earlier in the day, we celebrated a friend's Birthday at. Same beach, two times in one day, with a nap in between. At the end of the day, we all agreed that we need more days like this.
Yesterday we continued on our mission to soak up every ounce of summer with a past-bedtime marshmallow roast in the backyard with neighbors. Normally our kids are in bed by 8pm. Last night it was 10pm and it was so right. Many, many days it rains around here and when the sun shines, we are learning to step outside and take full advantage of it. I feel like we're finally in the groove of filling up our sunshine tank for the days when things are less sunny and we need that reserve.

So many nights my husband works late and dinnertime is so far less than ideal, but the nights that he's home, we grab hold of and magnify everything good about them. And so...last night it was marshmallows until the sun was long gone and this morning the house was quiet while the kids slept late.
Today's strawberry picking adventure was the icing on the cake of this community that's so full of goodness that I could almost burst. This local berry farm, Sakuma Bros., opened up their 30 acre berry field for the public to pick for FREE until July 1st. In a public letter, they wrote "this is a small token of appreciation to our loyal supporters and employees." 
To me, that seems like the ultimate way to say thank you to a community who truly appreciates their local farmers and it's pretty darn awesome if you ask me.
We hadn't planned on picking strawberries this year since our own little garden has really been thriving, but we couldn't resist this opportunity. It's all about the experience, isn't it?

By the time we headed back to the car, we were covered in mud and stained with berries. Our clothes are presently soaking off the strawberry fields that are caked onto them and my kitchen is cluttered with big bowls of strawberries, waiting to be washed. The funny thing is that we all couldn't be happier.
I would do it all again in a heart beat and we will....maybe even tomorrow.

It was the best morning and our community once again blew me away. Friends, free berries, beautiful farmland. Thank you Sakuma Bros. for your generosity. We truly love where we live.

Below is exactly what it looks like....sister "sniff check" on the field. Life is never dull with these girls!

 ♥ Angela

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hunting for Treasure

When I wrote on Monday about starting fresh, writing that list of the things that pull me out of survival mode and into that spot that feels intentional and right, these type of adventures went onto that list. Adventures for just us. Spontaneous adventures. Adventures where the kids set the pace, where the agenda isn't mine and where there isn't any expectation. Moments like this remind my why I want to intentionally leave spots open on the calendar and not feel the pressure to sign up for everything---because isn't it so easy to feel like if you aren't doing every class, sport or event, your kids might be missing out on something and later in life, they might not measure up? Ewwww....That's crazy talk. 

Yesterday I printed off treasure maps and before we headed out, I had the kids sit down, color their maps and then pack them into a bag that could carry anything interesting that we'd find along the way. Judah was so into this and he excitedly led the way.

When we reached what he was certain was the end of the trail, he quickly started digging and searching for his treasure. As he dug, I started pacing around, hoping that I'd spot a coin or at least something that he'd find interesting. He dug and I looked--- sure that I'd dropped the ball this time. He was searching for treasure, certain it was there and I'd brought him out there with nothing. Mom fail.
As he dug, he mentioned that maybe he'd at least find a key if he dug down deep enough. This gave me an idea. While I didn't have any treasures to sneak into his hole, I did have my keys and one of them was old and no longer needed.
He lost interest and started searching around in a different spot. When he turned his back, I slipped my old key into his hole, mentioning to him that maybe he should dig just a bit further and take one last look.
When he found the key, he was glowing. He told me it was the key to the treasure chest that he'll someday find. I agreed with him that it does look like a key to a treasure chest and that even if we didn't find any more treasure today, I'm sure we'll find more some other day.
Putting the key out for him helped him become more aware of the other "treasures" around us. After that, we walked slowly, looking for anything interesting or unusual that we could find. Paisley looked for different flowers and we found an abandoned bees nest.
Mornings like this are exactly what I want our summer to be filled with. These are our happy place. This is what it feels like to go back and remember where we thrive, to put all comparison aside and do what works best for us right now. And next time, I think I'll bring some chocolate coins to drop into that hole.

A few great sites for free printable treasure maps:
Treasure maps for kids
Treasure Map Coloring Pages

Treasure Checklist

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chicken Coop Tour

 I've had a couple people ask me about our chicken coop so, today I thought I'd give you all a little tour. Big Mama says "Welcome!"

Our coop was actually a gift from my sweet friend Emily. After about a year of talking my husband into letting me get chickens, he finally got on board, but as we looked into coop designs, we realized that this could be expensive. There are so many super cute chicken coops out there, but most of the new ones run anywhere from $350-$700. They're fantastic, but it's a bit spendy upfront.

So, I decided to throw it out there to the Facebook world that I was looking to buy a used coop, hoping that someone had one they'd like to sell me. Moments later, Emily popped up with one that we could have. Wow, what a fun blessing!

After we got the coop, the kids were super excited to get to work on it and as you can see from Paisley's face below, she was really wanting her chickens NOW.
The first things we did (we as in my wonderful husband, let's just get that straight), were add nesting boxes and linoleum for the floor. The nesting boxes were built from scrap wood and then we painted them---we, as in husband.... credit goes where credit is due. He's worked his tail off for me. Love you, hun.
 The next thing we did is paint the outside. This time the "we" is my Mom and I. We had the best time painting this coop together.
 The trim was painted white and then after that, we painted the rest of it a really nice barn red color. I've always had a BIG thing for barns and until we live in the country someday with a real barn, this satisfies that barn loving spot in my heart.

The next thing we added is a little door and a ramp to let the chickens out into their run. Judah tested it out for his chicks.
Of course, the coop needed a couple roosts so, two of those went in as well. You'll notice in the picture below that the nesting boxes are boarded up. This is so the chicks wouldn't get in the habit of sleeping in them, and pooping in them. For the first couple months, we kept them closed up and just recently we opened them. Soon they'll start to lay and they're really good about perching on the roosts every night so, I'm not worried about them sleeping in the nesting boxes now.
For the run, we'd considered building our own, but after a bit or research, we decided on a chain link dog run. This one is 10 feet long. We covered the top of it with chicken wire to keep out animals or an escaping chicken. Below, Eliza was testing out the run for us. Don't worry, the chickens hadn't been in there yet. 
One thing about the chain link run that I didn't anticipate is that the chicks could stick there heads through the holes, to eat the grass on the outside. The first time we left them in there, I left the house for just a few hours and while I was gone, something came into our yard (an Eagle, I suspect) and partially pulled one through the chain link and killed it. It was awful.
After that, we immediately wrapped the first couple feet up from the ground with 1/4 inch wire. We actually dug this wire into the ground a few inches, to have it extra secure and since then, we haven't had a problem. The chain link works great, but I'd highly recommend adding this smaller wire around the base as well. 
Right now, we use wood shavings inside the coop for bedding and whenever I clean it out, I add a bunch of fresh lavender, rosemary and mint to the new bedding.
 These herbs are super easy to grow and they're great in the coop. They have really helped it not stink and they seem to be repelling flies and bugs as well.
 The next thing I need to do is get a few fake eggs from the Country Store to put in the nesting boxes. Apparently that'll help show them where they're supposed to lay. Right now, they're about 15 weeks old so, in the next month or two, we should start getting eggs! Yahoo!
So here is our little coop. Hope you enjoyed the tour!
In case you're thinking about getting chickens, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite backyard chicken websites. My friend Barb shared these with me and I swear you could learn pretty much anything you need to know from them.

The Chicken Chick- She's my favorite.
Backyard Chickens- Another great source of information.



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