A Field Trip to the Denver Art Museum

Daniel Libeskind Architect, Studio Libeskind and Davis Partnership

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We have a lovely art museum in Denver.  The architecture is modern meets medieval and the exhibits change regularly.  Floors of ancient and new art serve to inspire and educate.  The museum makes sure that there are things to keep the children busy as well.  Pads of paper and boards with things to look for are set up in stations around the museum to encourage children to be mindful and alert and to express their own innate creativity.

My daughters and I and my two granddaughters were originally headed to the Denver Zoo but due to the mass amount of people (and I shall save you the tirade about what marijuana legalization will do to your state) we had to find other activities.  Maryjane was less than thrilled about trading elephants for fourteenth century art but we made it a game where she was to find every dog and horse in the paintings and sculptures.

It is really something to stand before a painting that was carefully drawn over five hundred years ago.  It is really inspiring to see the spirits of people captured on canvas- ordinary moments in life stopped in time.  The colors, the shadows, the stories…

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Rosina Ferrara, Head of a Capri Girl by John Singer Sargent

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I enjoyed this exhibit the most this time.  Jordan Casteel is a Denver native and I love how she portrays every day moments.

I haven’t painted in a year but I think it is time to gather some canvases.

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My painting- “Native Inside,” acrylic on canvas, 24×36

DenverArtMuseum.org

Tunnel of Arbors (and how I made ours)

I would love to say that I am super handy or a DIY kind of farmgirl.  But, I am not.  I can think of all sorts of clever alternatives though that don’t require more than a screwdriver!

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I am in love with this arbor idea.  I have been for years.  I find it so enchanting!

So, I priced them out at the hardware store.  Yikes.  “You can just build one so easy,” my friends tell me, “You just need PVC pipe and…” They lost me.  I can go on Amazon though, y’all.  I ordered five arbors for $24.99 each.  I have had ones like this before and they last forever.

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Feeling mighty fine wielding my trusty screwdriver, pulling screws from my apron pockets, I got three of them up and made my husband do the others.

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One went by the gate because nothing is as wonderful as approaching a home and entering a gate and walking under an arbor with climbing roses atop it.  Secret garden indeed.

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Before (this is our third season)

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The new garden beds just waiting for climbing peas, yard long beans, and loads of pumpkins!

To read how to make my signature garden beds in about fifteen minutes and fifteen dollars, click here.  They are a combination of permaculture and straw bale gardening with a touch of broke farmgirl from buying too many seeds.

Spring is here and I would love to hear about your garden plans!

All the Beautiful Collections

What do you collect?

I am not a great lover of tchotchkes because I am not a great lover of dusting.   I do not need fifty seven plastic Santa Clauses no matter now much I love him.  In Country Living magazine they have a section that showcases this gal who collects so many things.  So many useless things.  But if they bring her joy or remind her of a time long gone or of her mother, who am I say they are useless?

When we lost our rented farm and became homeless (not completely homeless thanks to the goodness of friends allowing us to stay in guest rooms with our nine cats until we could get on our feet which took six months), I lost so many collections.  Antiques, dishes, silverware, New Mexican Santos, books….everything.  For the first few years we just gathered what we needed.  Why collect when it could be gone in a moment?  Why waste energy and money on material items?  Simplicity!  Freedom!

When we were first married we both had a few Coca Cola items.  I had purchased my first one from an antique store down on south Broadway when I was twelve years old using my babysitting money.  Together we had the beginnings of a regular collection and friends bought us pieces and we bought pieces and it was a full blown collection before I tired of it and sold it all at a garage sale.

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Back at the farm, while we were reeling from loss and devastation from losing everything, my daughter, Shyanne, was calmly moving some special things to her apartment.  She had saved the Christmas ornaments we had collected over many travels and years.  And she saved the wedding dishes.  She gave some to me when we moved into an apartment.  They are beautiful English Castle.  She has the rest.  I want her to have the whole collection.

Times change and our tastes change and different things become practical and memory filled.  I do love useful things.  Of course, over two of said items is probably just collecting.

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I love aprons.  They are so sensible.  I wear them most everywhere.  A pocket for my keys.  They keep dish water from splashing on my clothes.  They keep my clothes clean in case Doug wants to whisk me off to dinner.  They have a delicate feminine flounce to them that takes me back to a bygone era and makes me feel pretty.

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I love book bags.  I have never found a purse I like.  I love to throw my wallet, some tissues, my daytimer, a pen, a writing book, a great reading book or magazine, and my water bottle into a unique bag.  Each bag showcases a side of me.  A bear having tea.  Lots of cats and books.  A typewriter.

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Plants.  I collect plants, I admit it!  I am truly out of windows now though.

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Books.  I can be frugal as can be.  Envelope system, check.  Budget, check.  Book store, we didn’t need that much grocery money anyway!  Even if I don’t care for the book, I keep it.  I adore books.  I want them to be available for others to read.  I love bookshelves of creativity and knowledge at my fingertips.  (I also love libraries and read a fair amount of their books too, but I also love taking my time, and a fresh new cover pleases me so.)  We didn’t move our books when we moved to the country.  We had such a huge collection of books while homeschooling but didn’t have the strength or time to move them all.  I wish I had.  I wish I had those books.  The ones I had to give away when we left our farm….an autographed copy of Jane Goodall’s book…..so many books….are gone.  I am clinging to these books I have now.

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I know, I know, they are just material items.  I know that, you know that, but material items bring some joy to our life.  They remind us of things that made us who we are.  They inspire us to move towards the person we want to be.  I had just mentioned to someone that I wanted to find Fiesta dishes.  My love of the southwest is not a secret and my home doesn’t hide that fact.  Oh Fiesta dishes would make me ever so happy having my coffee in the morning.  A student and friend of mine, out of the blue, offered me nine sets for a crazy low price.  They were her mother’s.  Her mother passed away.  Can’t take it with you.  I hope she loved them while she was here.  I know I will love them.  They inspire me and brighten my morning.

What do you collect?

 

 

On the Verge of Spring at Pumpkin Hollow Farm (an enchanted life)

Petunia is still rather plump, even after having babies last autumn.  She is very fluffy and so cute I wish she would come in the house to live, but of course squirrels don’t typically enjoy living in the house.  She sits next to me on the porch as I eat my lunch on warm days.  I just watched her from the picture window jump from limb to limb.  I need to put more bird seed and peanuts out.  The Blue Jays are making such a racket.  They do despise when I am late.

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Hundreds of lovely, chirping sparrows reside here.  As do many doves and starlings.  Crows fly over.  Owls can be heard in the night.  Hawks stop to rest.  Sea gulls and geese fly over towards the lake.  A third of an acre in the city sure can be a wild life haven.  I love it here.

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The chickens from the factory farm that we rescued are plump and quite loud.  They run towards me bow legged and squat, hollering like miniature geese.  They love to eat and are firmly against being on a diet.  “We are not broilers here, Dears,” I remind them, “You do not need to get so fat!”  Dixie is still tiny.  My granddaughter renamed the infant rooster, Bob.

I am fervently manifesting and saving for a greenhouse.  The ducks come April 20th.

My classes are chosen for the autumn session of college.

I am quite sore from teaching dance last night.  I am teaching two herbalist classes.  Just keeping busy until I can be in my gardens full time!

I leave in three weeks for ten days in Arizona and New Mexico for my birthday.  Such wonderful blog posts I will write!

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The seedlings are doing well.  The ground is softening.  I am teaching a gardening class Sunday to plant potatoes that have taken over the cupboard.

My friends are here visiting for the weekend.  I have so many dear friends.  I am so lucky.

Such a slow, lovely, blessed, ordinary, extraordinary life I lead.  And that, my friends, is what is going on at Pumpkin Hollow Farm on the verge of Ostara and the equinox.  Spring is next week!  Here it is quietly arriving.

What is happening on your homestead this week?  I am honestly interested!

An Epic Mermaid and Pirate Birthday Party (tips for a great party!)

My granddaughter, Maryjane, turned six years old.  Her Pa turned forty-nine.  Our daughters set out to create an amazing sea experience to celebrate both of their birthdays.  This year they put on a Mermaid and Pirate party!

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The coffee shop in Elizabeth is near and dear to us and we were so pleased that the owner gave Shyanne the key and let us have our party there.  It is the mid-way point for everyone in our families.  We live far enough away that we got a hotel room for the weekend and spent time with Emily and Reed and our beautiful little girls.  They stayed in the room with us and it was so much fun.

Every birthday is a gift.  Every year that the kids are small and let us snuggle them is a gift.  Every moment with family and friends is a gift.

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Maryjane’s cake was made with a mouthwatering homemade strawberry filling with creamy vanilla cake.

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Pa’s cake was made with homemade peppermint patties layered into mint and chocolate.  All decorations are homemade and edible!

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Shyanne is the most amazing baker.  She always has been.  She was eight years old in the kitchen (cussing up a storm) making the most amazing confections.  Her craft only gets better and she created from scratch some amazing cupcakes and cakes this year.

She bought simple cardboard cake trays and had me hot glue them to inexpensive water cups.  These created beautiful cake stands.

The key to a great kid’s party is to limit the number of kids.  Have far more adults than children.  Sound ridiculous?  Think about it, thirty kids and six adults?  Or six kids and thirty adults?  The adults all mingle and catch up (these little girls have HUGE families) and the children are easily kept focused and have a great time together.

We served various teas and coffee.  A spread of gold fish, spray painted Oreos, fruit, veggies, dips and chips made great snacks.  Having the party just after lunch (say, 1 or 2:00) allows the host to serve simpler fare.

A great time was had by all.  Five generations of family, lots of great friends, kiddos, and a granddog celebrated these two beautiful people that I am so grateful to have in my life.

(To contact Shyanne about making an amazing cake, cupcakes, or cookies for your next event, check out her facebook page at http://facebook.com/WickedlyDeliciousDesserts or email her at Shyanne@WhiteWolfHerbscom)

 

 

 

Become a Certified Herbalist with my Online Course

Do you have the same love for herbs as I do?  Do you imagine an apothecary within your home filled with jars of beautiful dried herbs that you grew yourself and vats of brewing medicines to heal anything and everything?  Do you wish to know how to heal?  Do you imagine your own apothecary on the main street?  Greeting customers with a cup of tea and a smile and a ready cure for their dog’s arthritis or maybe their own lingering cough?  If you are tired of doling out money to others for things that you can heal yourself, maybe it is time to consider becoming a certified herbalist!

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I have been an herbalist for a long time.  I have seen nearly every ailment you can think of.  I have successfully helped heal thousands of people and animals.  I grow dozens and dozens of medicinal herbs and can identify many more.  I know Native American herbs like the back of my hand.  It is a part of my very heart.

I remember the fear of holding my newborn son, his fever raging, his lungs tired from screaming.  I remember not knowing what to do.  I remember.

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I don’t want any mother (or father) or farmgirl to not know what to do when your chicken sneezes, or your horse colics, or your baby has a fever.  Knowing how to work with herbs takes away so much fear in life.  So much worry is dispelled with knowledge.  I am not talking about essential oils here, I am talking about the whole herbs and what to do with them.  The plants are our medicine.  Let me teach you.

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My online certified herbalism study course is back and better than ever.  I have purposely set my price considerably lower than any other school because this is knowledge that is so very important.  $250 includes your text book, my recipe book, and ongoing study with me.  Take all the time you need.  We will keep in touch through email.  You can call or text me if you have questions.  Even after you complete the course.  Now is the time.  Spring is a great time to embark on a new hobby, career, lifestyle.

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Email me to register.  Katie@Pumpkinhollowfarm.net

Over Ten Things You Should Never Throw Away (clever tips to reuse ordinary items)

I am cleaning out the junk drawer today.  It is a little packed in there.  I am trying to get my home organized and cleaned out before the fervor of gardening season begins.  Because then I’m not gonna want to come in the house!

I am probably not going to throw away much in the junk drawer, just organize it.  There are some things that a lot of folks would throw out that can be brilliantly reused on a homestead.  Here are my top ten things you should never throw away!

#1 Twist ties– They come on bread, produce, and in every package of toys and small appliances, and you will want every last one of them this summer!  Not only do twist ties make the very best cat toys, they have another use, training and holding plants up.  Tie one loosely around a branch of a tomato plant and secure to the cage to help give it stability and to help it branch out more.  Use for anything that trellises; tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and roses to name a few.

#2 Rubber bands– Also a desired cat toy, though they shouldn’t be swallowing them.  When you have a nice fresh bundle of beets or collard greens in your hand, it is quite handy to reach in your apron pocket and grab a rubber band to hold the stems together.

#3 Clothes Pins– Well, this is a no-brainer, obviously we need it for our clothes line!  But these gems also keep tops of flour bags closed.  They can be used to label plants by pinning the marked paper to the side of a pot.  (I have exciting news y’all might appreciate.  I had to stop using a clothes line last year (after fifteen years) because a very large and rambunctious puppy moved in and used the hanging clothes as toys you could shred.  I am having new areas of my yard fenced off this month and can start reusing the clothes line!  That dryer just shrinks everything anyway.)

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#4 Jars– Glass jars are always in use around here.  Large glass juice jars get washed and refilled with water and placed downstairs in case of an emergency.  Smaller glass jars and every sort of canning jar are used to hold odds and ends and dried herbs and teas and spices and coffee and seeds and more!  The canning jars are obviously also used for canning.  Nothing like opening fresh produce in February.

#5 Chop sticks– use these to stir oils and infused honeys.  Use to label plants.  Stake a small house plant.  Use to eat Chinese food.

#6 Plastic baggies and produce bags– Every bag around here gets washed and reused a zillion times.  We go months and months without buying sandwich bags or freezer bags.  A produce bag can hold a half an onion in the fridge or three sandwiches for a picnic.  Ziplock style bags can be reused many, many times.

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#7 Wine corks– Use these for crafts (glue them together in a metal ring to make a trivet or build a birdhouse).  My favorite use is to pile them into the bottoms of large pots for drainage when repotting plants.

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#8 Salad containers– Plastic salad or deli containers with lids make perfect mini greenhouses to start seeds in.

#9 Nursery pots– You never know when you might want to pot up some of your aloes or need to move seedlings into larger containers.

#10 Twine and bits of rope and ribbon– Fix a fence, tie a plant to the cage, tie around cheesecloth to secure to mouth of jar, tie up your hair, or wrap a presen

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In a canning jar, add a few inches of sand then a votive. When the votive melts just pop it out and add another candle in! You can melt down candles and remake them as well.

Other things we have done over the years:

Paint wine bottles with chalkboard paint and make cute little blackboards.

Use paper grocery bags, newspaper, and cardboard in the garden to suppress weeds.  Cover with straw to hide.

Repaint old furniture to make new pieces!

Use old dinner plates to catch water under houseplants.

Use egg cartons as paint palettes.  Or to start seeds.

Half of a pop or water bottle becomes a funnel.  Or a cloche.

There are lots of ways to reuse and repurpose ordinary items!

The Joyful, Simple Life of a Frugal Housewife

I have a little book that was written by Mrs. Child in 1832.  The American Frugal Housewife is surely just as useful today in many senses.  The author almost lost me when she noted that coffee was not economical and could be avoided.  Oh, she’s a strict one, that Mrs. Child.  Her prose is clear and concise and the book is ever fun to read.  Going on two hundred years old, it is a bit of history rolled into a gentle reminder that not that much has changed.

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If you make a dollar, only spend eighty cents.  If you make fifty cents, only spend forty.  The original Dave Ramsey.  Why do all the girls these days need the new bonnets from France when clean, proper dresses and a ribbon will do?  Girls have no home education these days!  In this book she covers everything from cuts of meat (she would wonder about me and my vegetarianism), to how to make custard, and Indian pudding.  She discusses herbs for cooking and all their medicinal values as well.  A new onion will take the pain out of a wasp sting.  Every housekeeping gem that we housewives- even in the twenty-first century- could ever need are in this book.  She would tisk-tisk me for sure.  But in this time and age, I am not too bad.  But there is always room for improvement.  A simple, frugal life is a life of peace.

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The gents installing the meters for the solar panels on our homestead were surprised at how little electricity we use.  Now it can all be generated from the sun.  When you walk through our gate, past the Pumpkin Hollow Farm sign, you will find yourself in a large yard.  Under snow, it looks ordinary, but this spring you will find dozens, upon dozens, and dozens of medicinal and culinary herbs.  This year, enough produce growing to last us eight+ months.

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When you come in there is a wood stove and nice wood floors that are easy to clean.  Plants and aloes and seed starts fill my home.  We read by candlelight and oil lamps.  Twinkly lights are the electric lights.  Piles of books to read, board games, and a tuned piano supply entertainment. We rarely watch television.  In the warmer months we will sit on the porch or go for a walk, all free things.  And blessed time together.

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In the kitchen, home cooked meals are made.  I am finally getting used to not cooking for  all the children.  Just me and Pa and some left for the puppy.  Our root cellar is dwindling but there are still over a hundred jars of produce put up.  There are fresh eggs from the coop.  Cups of herb tea steaming on the counter.

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You will almost always find me in an apron.  They are so practical and keep my long skirts clean.  I make all of our own medicine, prepare our meals, create much of what we need.  I can sew a quilt, make our own soap, brew some meade, put up green beans, bake sourdough bread, make antibiotics, save seeds, use the library, ride my bike, and if I make fifty cents then I shall save ten!  More likely five cents, but we’ll get there.

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Such a good life indeed.

Farmgirl Inspiration

Hello March, it’s nice to see you.  January and February can be the very hardest time of the year for farmgirls.  We have our gardens, our farms, our animals, our preserving, our home making, our crafting in the fall in anticipation for the holidays, we have our cooking, and our entertaining, and our pleasant fatigue.  Then there is January and February…hello March, it’s nice to see you!  Thank the Lord you’re back!

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Even though it is still cold and there is ice on the car and tomorrow it is going to snow, it is March and all things can come anew now, in my mind and in nature.  I have plans!  Oh glorious plans, and guess what?  I figured out a way to make them manifest.  My son texted me yesterday and said he would come help with the fencing.  I found an affordable way to get the outbuildings I wanted.  Yes, my gardens are about to take on some marvelous expansion and changes.

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Field fencing is a farmgirl’s friend because it is easy to put up and can be taken down if needed.  I am expanding the chicken yard.  I am fencing off another part of the backyard for a greenhouse, raised beds, and space for a rooster.  Doug isn’t thrilled we have a rooster.  But I think one in seven wasn’t bad!  I also have ducklings on order to pick up in April.  They are honest-to-god worthless (few eggs, eat ten times more than the chickens, are noisy, splash water everywhere), but dang, they are so cute!  The greenhouse will double as night quarters for the trouble makers and Captain the Rooster.  None of them can jump or fly up on things, so plants will be safe and the added humidity from the ducks’ water antics will create a nice space.  (Did I mention my husband doesn’t like ducks either?  I just look at him like I don’t speak English.)

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A shed is going up to fit all the yard tools in, which will make room for some outdoor furniture and hanging plants around the back porch.  Listen, y’all, I will do before and after pictures when all this is said and done, but right now it looks like a hundred and fifty pound puppy dug holes to China, ate all the outdoor pillows, destroyed a huge dog bed, and threw some trash around.  (Actually, that is what happened.)

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In the front yard, a large archway will have pumpkins and other climbers growing up it.  Add in a few twinkly lights and I will have an enchanted garden for sure.  I have added a couple hundred feet of gardens.  The stalks of the roses are all turning green.

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There is a loom downstairs.  I have friends that can show me how to use it.  I have always wanted to learn how to weave.  I painted a box with a lid for my son’s long time girlfriend for Christmas.  It has a dear clasp and longs to be filled with secret treasures.  I painted a scene from a vacation they took on the lid.  I would like to do more of those.  Maybe set up my sewing machine.  Craft ideas come to mind.

Inspiration to farmgirls is like medicine.  Maybe even breath, if I am not being too dramatic here.  What are you inspired to achieve this spring?