Appreciating Our Homestead

I love our house/property, and I have since we moved here more than 10 years ago. In the last year or two though, I am trying to more purposefully take time to observe and notice. I am using the day-to-day beauty of the flowers and the veggies and the fruits, and the hard work that goes along with it, to help me with missing the kiddos every day. It seems to help me stay (at least slightly more) centered.

The blog and my newer enjoyment of taking pictures also helps. So, while I’m waiting for us to make more progress on the pergola, I thought I’d share a few flowers with you.

The bee balm was beautiful again this year, though it gets a powdery mildew pretty quickly.

And the echinacea did really well.

Daylilies with larkspur and bee balm make a pretty color palette.

Of course, having Fargo The Terrible around helps (most of the time).

Veggie garden, blueberry and pergola updates coming soon!

Empty Nest is (still %$#@ing) Hard

We are closing in on the three year mark of being Empty Nesters. It feels like longer though, as our youngest was functioning pretty independently the last year she was here. For some reason, I thought it would get easier, but it hasn’t. There is something to be said for “out of sight, out of mind,” but it definitely doesn’t apply here.

Of course, there is less laundry, fewer dishes, fewer piles of shoes, less clutter, less chauffering, etc. We don’t miss the sisterly bickering, but boy do we miss the giggling, debates, brainstorming. It’s great to have Fargo to snuggle with on the couch (when he wants to), but we miss seeing the girls snuggling on the couch.

I’ve hypothesized before, that maybe it’s harder for us because so many of our friends’ children go to school close enough that they can see them more often. When we did the empty nest thing, we REALLY did it, and only see our kiddos 3-4 times/year. Yes, there are things that are easier to get used to, but too many that are not.

Every once in a while, hubby will say, “it would be really cool if the kids could just come over for dinner.” He is right. We are definitely grateful for technology and the ability to text, Snapchat, Facetime, email, whenever possible, but it’s not a replacement for big, huge squeezes.

Just because they’re far away, doesn’t mean we (especially me) worry less. The eldest was sick last week during her Spring Break, and if she were closer, could have come home and been coddled. The youngest traveled abroad for Spring Break and though she was abroad for an entire semester last fall, it’s harder to have her even further than usual.

The eldest is graduating in a few weeks, which brings along so many emotions, and may be why I’m writing this post. How did we get from this…

…to two kids graduating from college in the next 13+ months? How did the years go by so quickly?

I try to keep this blog pretty upbeat. I try to use my free time wisely (for the most part), though I’m not always sure what that means. The hubby and I enjoy being a couple again (for the most part…haha ). Fargo lucked into being a spoiled empty nest puppy, and I’m glad we can spoil him. But whether they choose to live where they are, or move back to the East Coast, they will likely never live close enough to just “come over for dinner.”

If I’m going to be an honest empty nest blogger, this part of it needs to be shared as well. As proud as we are of our amazing daughters, empty nest is (still $%#@ing) hard, even three years later.

 

Countdowns

It’s been fairly quiet here in central PA.

I created an Instagram account:

https://www.instagram.com/taughtthemtofly/

We had a nice Thanksgiving weekend with my parents visiting, but there was a definite void without the girls here. We did lots of talking about the future. We took some nice walks, somehow picking the same times as our good friends which meant some extra visiting time with them. We ate yummy food.

I did make a new goody, Chocolate Pumpkin Pie.

chocolate pumpkin pie

I couldn’t find the wafer cookies in the recipe, so I used chocolate graham crackers, and reduced the amount of sugar since there is sugar on the crackers. It was very tasty!

Hubby and I haven’t made much progress on the garage because once you get past the obvious decisions on what stays and what goes, there sits the pile of “what the heck do we do with that?!?” stuff. Stuff that is in good shape so it shouldn’t go in the garbage, but that you will never use. Does it go on ebay? Or get donated? Is there any monetary value to it? I do have a box full to take to a local shop, but haven’t actually made it to the shop yet.

Today begins December. The holiday month is here. It is also the countdown month for us. This blog is turns a year old in a few days, and though the past few weeks have been sparse, I plan to continue adding posts. We are almost to single digits for the eldest and her BFF to arrive and under 3 weeks for the youngest to return from abroad. I try not to wish the days away, but it’s hard.

Cleaning Out the Garage

As I mentioned in my Hobby Adventures post, in order to pursue a few of the hobbies I have on my list, the garage space needs to also be a work space. Cleaning out the garage is perpetually on the “to do” list anyway, so I encouraged hubby to move it up in priority. We spent many hours on it this weekend and though I know we made progress, it is a way bigger project than I had anticipated and a way more emotional project as well.

Garages (and closets and basements) often become the repository for things we don’t immediately know what to do with, for things we think we may someday have a use for, for things we are saving for our kids to use when they get their own place, for things that have monetary or sentimental value that we don’t want to get rid of, etc. Over the years, there is a subtle encroachment on usable space, and one day, you realize that you can barely fit one car in a garage meant for two.

Some of the decisions are easy. There are things we haven’t used in years, the girls will never use them, time to go. But then the question of garbage or give away or sell arises, and that answer is not so easy.

For example, a perfectly good light fixture from our bathroom. We are not shiny brass fans.

light fixture

Or the sink from last winter’s renovation project that is in great shape (we bought a vanity with an integrated top).

bathroom sink

Believe me, there are way more things that fall into this category, but I won’t bore you. I posted pictures on Facebook and no one local expressed interest. So now what do we do? Does this stuff just go to the landfill? Or do we put it on eBay? Or a local free/for sale page? These are the questions that come up over and over again.

The next category is memorabilia/stuff from grandparents/relatives. We found a box of cassette tapes from when the girls were little. We don’t have a tape player any more. I was on my way to the garbage can to toss them all in when I stopped and thought I should just check eBay. People are selling these on eBay, so they’re now sitting in the house with the little vases and candle sticks and ceramic coasters…

tapes

coasters

bud vase

It’s out of the garage, but in the house, and I’m just not sure what to do with it all. And I’m guessing there will be more as we continue on through the garage.

We also found a journal from when one of the girls was in third grade. There are three entries, much of the entries are about what a brat her sister is (was). It choked us up a little, and made us chuckle because we could totally picture her writing it then, and maybe even writing a version of it now. It choked us up because it seems like yesterday and because even though that daughter thought her sister was a brat, and I’m sure the other daughter felt the same about her, they have become the best of friends. Their relationship is more than I ever could have imagined and I am grateful beyond words. Empty nest is hard on a day to day basis, but stuff like this amplifies the distance and lack of togetherness.

I can’t end this post about the garage without mentioning the 1972 Cub Cadet. Hubby bought the Cub Cadet around 10 years ago because it was a solid tractor, made when they still made real tractors for lawn and garden.  It would be our snow removal equipment, and it was in great shape. Ten years ago was the last time it worked.

cub cadet

I have tried to convince hubby that we should sell it, and I have teased him repeatedly about it decorating the garage, and I have asked him to get rid of it, but he is determined that he will get it running again…

 

Catching Up

It’s been an interesting few weeks, and the longest number of days between posts since I started this blog about 9 months ago. We have said some temporary and more permanent good-byes, and saying good-bye is hard. There has been a lot going on with garden veggie processing, baking, Fargo-ing, kitchen updating and some running. There has not been enough going on with cleaning, organizing, weeding…but really, when is that list ever done?

Also, blogging is fun, but it’s hard work. I’m pretty sure I’ve had Blogger’s Block (is that a thing?). The process of coming up with ideas for posts, taking and editing pictures, and putting words together has seemed like too much time and energy…until today.

I have done a lot of baking, mostly to gift to others, but I’ve been baking the old favorites and not adventuring into new recipes. The most recent thing I baked was Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread, also an old favorite, but maybe new since the blog.

pupmkin bread

Though I generally follow the recipe, I have tweaked it quite a bit, using hubbard squash just for starters. I also cut the sugar down by one cup and use a cup of white sugar and a cup of brown. I use 1/2 cup applesauce in substitution for 1/2 of the oil. I use 1/2 white wheat flour instead of all white. I leave out the cloves, which I do for most recipes that call for cloves. I finish it off by adding semi sweet chocolate chips because everything is better with chocolate.

I spent a few hours over the weekend making fresh salsa, now that we finally have a few ripe tomatoes. I added onion, cucumber and peppers (green and Hungarian Hot Wax) from the garden, locally grown corn (more on that in a minute), a little vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. Hubby said it was the best ever.

fresh salsa

In the top left corner of the salsa, you can just see a plastic bag full of many ears of corn. That bag is actually the second bag of corn our neighbors gave us. Here is a picture of the first bag.

bag o corn

Although I didn’t actually count, I believe we husked, steamed, cooled and sliced (for freezing) around 6 dozen ears. Thank you wonderful neighbors!

And, to top off the weekend, for the first time in our homeowner lives, we have an over the stove microwave. Thanks to the hubby for his hours of work on this baby!

microwave

Although it made good sense on its own, especially given that the current unit is 20 years old, there was some ulterior motive. We are hoping that we can use the space our current microwave is sitting on for more baking room.

I will stop there for now. Happy Monday to all!

Empty Nest is Hard

But thank goodness for technology.

When I was pregnant with the eldest, I remember a conversation with my mom where I said something like, “I have always been able to picture myself being mom to a baby, but I just can’t picture myself as a mom of older children.” Her answer has stuck with me for 20+ years, and it was,” you don’t have to be able to picture it, it just happens.”

And it did. Seems like it was a blink of an eye and we were on a plane dropping the first one off at school, and then a year later, dropping them both off. During the in between years, we worked very hard at balancing nurture and fostering independence. Taking care of our girls, and teaching them to take care of themselves. But the one thing we insisted upon, was that they keep in contact. They had a lot of independence in making decisions about what they did, as long as they kept us in the loop and kept in close touch.

Technology has helped us tremendously. When we all made the decision that the eldest would go to school VERY far away (have I mentioned the girls are VERY far?), the deal was that she would check in regularly, at least once a day, preferably when she was in her room for the evening. Not only would she be far away, but she would be transitioning from small town life to big city life.

It was stressful for us, me probably more so than hubby, but we both worried. Still do, to be honest, but it got easier in a way, when the youngest went out. We are incredibly lucky that they are together, and that they are good friends in addition to being sisters, and they take care of each other. This is an amazing thing, for so many reasons.

When they use technology to send us pictures like this, it makes our hearts happy.

girls

We love using face time and texting and facebook and now, snapchat. Seeing their faces every once in a while instead of just getting texts or hearing voices, is wonderful. Seeing how happy they are, makes a huge difference. As hard as it is some days to walk around the house and seemingly hear it echo, technology has helped us to adjust because we are still able to keep in close contact.