Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Transformation Tuesday! Our Living and Dining Room Makeovers!

Oh Peeps!  Have I got EXCITING news to share with you today.  This has been coming for a long long time, but we finally did it!  After gracing the floors of this farm house for over 35 years, the carpet came up from our living room and dining room to reveal a beautiful treasure!  Hardwood floors!!!!!

As a bit of a backstory, some of you might not know that we live in the house that Tall Guy has always lived in, like came home from the hospital to here.  Generations of his family have lived here: both sets of grandparents and his parents.  Our house has gone through a lot of changes since it was first built in the early 1900's.  We've done our fair share too by adding the sun room/attached garage and our first floor bedroom.  This last change wasn't nearly as involved; it only took a week to do, but this might one of the major changes for us.

The family knows I have been wanting to change out the carpet for oh..., officially about 15 years (how long we have been married), but I have to say, it has had its purpose.  When the girls were very young, it hid a lot of messes and honestly about everything you could throw at it except maybe green Pladoh!

And then there was my Pumpkin who was kind of a darker version of this rug.....

Oh WOW!  Sniff  Sniff!  Where have my babies gone?  And since we are talking about the girls, you know I have always referred to them as Tink, the oldest, and Bear, the youngest...Well Miss Tink is now 13, and from now on, I will be referring to her as Miss K.... ok now back to our current story.

We finally got around to taking up the carpet and see if the hardwood floors had survived years of being covered.  We first got the idea when we added the bedroom and took up the carpet in what is now Tall Guy's office.  The hardwood floor was in great condition, and that really restarted the itch to pull up all the carpet downstairs.

As we plotted and planned this big move, we also decided to flip the living and dining rooms.  I'd only seen the house with the rooms as we had had them.  Hey, Go big or go home right?  Yeah, I know we are already home, but we were feeling adventurous so.....

First, we moved around a lot of the furniture.  Some of it went upstairs, some went in other rooms, and some went out the door.  Both of us like uncluttered living space, but after surviving the child years when everything from changing tables and pack and plays were downstairs to the mass of toys involved with keeping two little girls entertained, we had some purging to do.

Miss K was having a hard time saying good bye. Like the "holes" in our floor?  These are old fashion cold air ducts.  They now have the grates back on them.

I was holding my breath, as TG pulled back the carpet and started to tug at the padding below it.

I'm sure it doesn't look like much, but I was thrilled to see that there were no major stains or marks on these beautiful floors!  I was even more thrilled once we pulled all the staples out of the boards. I think there might have been over a thousand between both rooms! WE includes the girl, Nick Wallpe, and Jason Kintner.  Those last two guys were huge life or rather back savers !!!!!!  At this point, we also seamed all the cracks in the lovely plaster walls and repainted the walls!  Big thanks to Ben, Chris, and Laura of LB Designs for doing all that wall work in four days!

Now I bet you all are wondering how we went from the floor pictured above to the floor in the pictures below.

We didn't sand it down, we didn't refinish it, and we didn't put a drop of polyurethane on it.  This transformation was soo stinkin' simple I wish we had done it years ago!  We consulted our painter, Ben, who advised us to try mopping on this wonderful product:

And as you can see, sigh......, I need or one of the girls needs to run the dust mop over the floors! This lovely product, Rejuvenate, worked miracles on our floors!  I did have to mop it on the floors about 5 times because the wood was so dry that it soaked up the product as quickly as I could apply it, but the last application really made the wood shine.  It's not, however, slick, and that is what I was going for because I'm too dang old to run around here wearing gripper socks!

Holy Smokes!  I went back in my archives to link to a post about our new bedroom, and apparently I never wrote one!!!!  What. The. Heck. Happened?!?!?!?  I guess I now have my motivation to clean up that room and share it with you as well,  We've kind of been living in our room, all four of us, while the living room and dining room were in transition.

I will continue to update you as we decorate the walls with pictures and farmy things.   Hope you enjoyed the big reveal like we did!   Until next time,


Monday, April 18, 2016

2 Meals from One Great Ingredient: Shrimp!

Hey there Peeps!  I'm celebrating the weekend with a family favorite recipe!  Sorry there are no recipes to copy on these two dishes, but that means they are super easy to make. The main ingredient in each?  SHRIMP!!!!

I LOVE SHRIMP!  I could go off like Forrest's friend Bubba and tell you all the different ways I like it, but let's just say I love shrimp!  What is even better now is that I can buy fresh, LIVE saltwater shrimp right in Benton County Indiana!  Click here for a look back at my trip to RDM Farms where they raise this delicious sea food delight!  The Browns were also recognized at last year's Indiana State Fair during their Year of the Farmer!

First off is an easy meal of pan fried shrimp in butter and garlic.

There isn't a set amount of butter and garlic to use.  It all depends on the size of your pan and the number of shrimp you want to cook.

I selected eight and popped them in the pan. When they turn pink on one side, it's time to turn them over!

I was advised to cook them with their heads on because the meat would be sweeter.  Fine with me. The girls, still smarting a bit from eating tongue, were not as thrilled.

Just because I'm a nice mom I cut off the heads, feet, and shells before presenting them to the girls for a try.  Tink liked it, but Bear said she was waiting for the fried version.

So while Tall Guy and I liked these shrimp all buttery and garlicy, the girls were begging for some good ol'  beer batter fried shrimp.  So.....Off with their heads and other parts!

I'm kind of old fashioned here, so I go with what my momma used, and she used what my Grandma Lyons told her to use, which is Aunt Jemima pancake batter, and I sniped one, maybe two, of Tall Guy's beverages to make the beer batter shrimp.  This, by the way, also works well with mushrooms, onion rings, and anything else you like with batter on it.  Not too sure about Twinkies and cookie dough.....may get back to you later on that one! ;-)

There are no set portions; just add beer to some pancake flour, stir, see how thick it is, and keep adding beer until it's not too thick, which means about pancake consistency.

Back to the shrimp.....dust the naked shrimp with a bit of the pancake flour then dip in the bear batter, and put in the pan to fry.  I used Wesson Oil!

Oh!  By the way!  I put some green beans in the pan that had the butter and garlic and started them to frying!  YUM!

Yes, that is Tall Guy's hand with the tongs turning the beans.  Wooooo!

This last picture just about brought tears to the girls' eyes.  They were so excited!  Yes, the shrimp were delicious!  Yes it was a bit of work to clean them.  The owner, Karaleana, said she fries them with the shells and feet on because most of it cooks down, and the rest just add to the crunchiness.  I asked the girls about that, but four years after the event,  they both are still holding the cow tongue episode over me, EVEN THOUGH THEY BOTH LIKED IT! 

This weekend, run on out to the grocery store, or if you are close to Benton County, Indiana, get off I-65 and head east on State Road 18 to the Brown's Shrimp Farm, and buy you a mess of shrimp.  Like Bubba

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Farm Q and A: Do Farmers Ever Get a Vacation?

Do Farmers ever get a vacation?   That's a great question!  For those of you out there who work from the home, are self-employed, or just have those driven, Type-A personalities, getting away for some well deserved and much needed down time can be hard to fit into the chaos of a family calendar. In this house, Tall Guy fits into all three of the categories I mentioned above.  Add 11 and 13 year old girls with school and sports activities, and a mom who somehow finds herself in charge of a lot of school and Farm Bureau projects,  and you have a group of four people who start to crave time away....Well, at least three of us do.

It really is hard to plan a vacation when you own your own business.  There is a ton of prep time needed to make sure everything runs smoothly while you are gone. When I taught, I dreaded the "sub plans" I had to create when I missed a day, but they were necessary so all involved survived the day. As in any job, it's hard for the boss or owner to let go of the reins. Our big black out times for travel are spring/early summer and fall.  Later in to the summers and winters might work, but with 4-H, school, and sports, there are only a few weeks to consider.  Farmers with livestock have the hardest time getting away because keeping our herds healthy and safe is a full time,24/7/365 job.  For us on the farm, the most important task is to make sure the cows are fed and checked twice a day. Thankfully, we have family close by who help us out with this chore.

It's a standing joke around here, but as TG and I were planning our wedding and talking to clergy about our expectations of married life, I said I wanted us to try to get out of the state for at least one week a year, and running over to Illinois for tractor parts would not count! I clued in right away that my guy does not know how to relax.  He will say he does, but if I allow him to be right in his thinking, I must point out that we do not have the same working definition of relaxation!  Work relaxes him!  The girls and I are happy to curl up with a book or some project that doesn't involve much if any labor.  When we had a foot of snow drop on us, TG jumped on the free time to pull 30+ years of clothing, memorabilia, and "stuff" out of the two upstairs closets to go through.  This is why when we schedule family free time, a trip is a must, and preferably our destination is at least two states away!

It's been a week, now, since we arrived back home from our spring break vacay.  We did something different this year.  The girls flew down to stay with TG's parents in Florida, and we grabbed our neighbors and headed to Puerto Vallarta to stay at Velas Vallarta for our first all-inclusive vacation.....I have to say it was one of the BEST vacations we've had.  I know there are people who go to great destinations and take in every sight and experience they can.  We had options to go zip-lining, deep sea fishing, take mountain and town tours, but honestly we were all so mentally ready to crash that we spent 95% of our time in a lounge chair soaking up the sun and relaxing....  Sigh.....

I thought I would do the next best thing to stowing  you away in my suitcase by sharing some pics from this slice of Paradise we discovered.

There were three iguanas hanging out around the pool, a momma, poppa, and .....well...a young one. I'm not sure how to tell a boy iguana from a girl.  They were friendly; I even petted this one who really didn't care if I moved my book or not as he strolled on by my chair.  P.S.  I read THREE books on this vacay: Ellen Marie Wiseman's What She Left Behind, Nicholas Sparks' See Me, and Diane Chamberlain's Pretending to Dance.  All three were great reads!

Do you remember Kevin, the big bird from the movie, UP!?  Kevin made the sound that I think most resembles the sound of a peacock.  There were three males and three females on the grounds, and those boys could fly up at least two floors and perch on the rails of the room's balcony.  I would definitely prefer a rooster crowing to a peacock doing whatever it does, but they were beautiful, very tame, and seemed to be on contract with the resort to fluff out their glorious feathers every 15 minutes.  I would love to have a dollar for every peacock picture taken while we were there!  I like this pic below because he was taking a break just like we were.

The "Quiet Pool"

The "Activity Pool"  and the wonderful Aqua Bar.

The grounds were beautifully maintained!

Looking at the pictures brings back such calming memories.... I may have to turn them into extra large prints and hang them above my desk until our next great escape.  With spring planting coming later than what we had hoped, it will be the middle of July or the first of August before we can even think of another timeout from the farm.

What are some of your challenges when planning a vacation?  Where do you like to go?  I would love to know.

TIP: One tip I can share with you is in the camera department.  I left my camera at home and took all these pictures with my Samsung Note 5! No extra thing to stuff in my carry-on bag, and no worry about leaving it at the pool or taking it to a meal......I will share more about the meals later, but the dining experience was a big part of the blissful feeling Mexico gave us!  Get to know your smartphone a bit better before your next trip and save yourself the worry and bother of carting a big DSLR around. I've been gathering information on taking better pictures with smartphones on my Pinterest page.  You might want to check out this board:  Smartphone Photography

Here's to finding little ways to escape the crazy that finds us this week.  If the little ways aren't cutting it, it might be time to plan a vacation~!