Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rest in Peace Dear Ol' Buttercup

It's a solemn day on the farm today, as we said good-bye to dear old Buttercup this morning. Not many cows in the world live to be 14 or get honored with tears at their passing, but Buttercup deserved hers.

So, in Buttercup's honor today, a little cow eulogy:

Buttercup was our second cow, arriving to our farm 10 years ago, 2 weeks after we got Daisy (whom she outlived by six years). She had spent the first 4 years of her life on a dairy farm, treated like, well, a cow. She came home to us banging at the trailer all the way down the driveway, and jumping out with a "who do I kill first?" look on her face. That first year, she was more bull-like than milking heifer-like, and we all thought the pretty little heart on her face was a bit misleading, as she would chase us out of her pastures and drag 13yr. Andrew (her poor milker) skiing along behind her, futilely clutching her lead rope as she trotted about whither she pleased.

Years later, new cows coming and going, Buttercup became the patron of the pasture, teaching the new girls how to milk by day and how to escape the pasture by night, always leading them home again after their short vacations around the neighborhood. Her character tamed to earn the sweetness of the heart on her forehead; the new milkers learning the art of milk extraction on her saggy udder and the youngest kids riding and lounging on her bony back as she sunbathed out in the pasture.

This farm housed its first bull on her behalf; since she wasn't taking to an AI, she earned herself a real live bull-friend. ;) She had several babies, most recently gifting us with Violet, Michael's little girlfriend in the pasture, to carry on her legacy of wonderful milk before she died.

The barnyard seemed somber today, as I stopped in to visit the animals after my walk. Of course, it may have been the cold, but I prefer to think that they were quiet in respect of dear ol' "ButtaTuppy" (as the milkers affectionately called her). Despite these kinds of cow-passing sad days (that I don't suppose every teenage boy has), I still find this lifestyle to make up for them in its simple joys, like doing farm chores.

Buttercup, we hope you are heartily welcomed into warmer pastures today! Thank you for sharing your life and your wonderful milk with us all these years--your presence will be missed on this farm!

In addition to Buttercup's passing today, our pump randomly decided to pick this day (mid. Jan., mid. blizzard) to poop out, leaving animals thirsty and dishes dirty. We have a new one coming tomorrow, and with a bit of hard old-fashioned work, we managed to water all the animals and wash the dishes this evening anyway.

For all that today, I still found it to be a wonderful day. With the kids coming in like snow covered eskimos, I was scraping ice off the bases of the windows and mopping up snow puddles, finding the urge in me to sing heartily with the other girls in the room. Even when the snow was whipping up to bite my cheeks on my walk with Cady today, I still felt like giggling at the frigidity of it all.

The realization that happiness is not something that can always be found in life, but something that we can always choose at any moment, has been sitting in the front of my mind lately... maybe it's asking to be written into a song. It will have to wait until I finish my novel first. Hmm, these white-out blizzardy days are wonderfully cozy for writing, reading, knitting, singing and making music!

Stay warm and happy out there!! :-)


Thursday, January 17, 2013

For Grandma...

Hello Readers,

This post is for our dear Grandma, but the rest of you can take a peak too. ;) Some of you know, but for those who don't, our Grandma is a wonderful painter and has passed some of her artistic passions on down to her grandchildren.

I know this post is a bit redundant to the last one, but since the cold and snow have prevented much outdoor activity, the paint brushes have yet to be laid to rest and so our pile of beautiful artwork continues to grow daily!

Here we go with Johnny's work. From left to right: a lightening storm, the northern lights over a lake, a goshawk (like one that we had trying to get a chicken recently) soaring above the mountain tops, a colorful abstract art and random planets out in our solar system. Pretty creative and colorful head, our little boy has!

Mike's northern lights and bird returning to her nest art. I love the free flow color that comes from a young head uninhibited by various art rules or structures. I think his colorful bird could be an album cover! 

Donna's little 4yr. art is among the most fascinating to study when it comes to an uninhabited mind! And this little sweetie loves to paint!! She's always making birthday presents for various family members, regardless of birth-dates. Last night, she talked Mom into baking a birthday cake with her for Annie and Theresa (haha, I think Mom's becoming a sucker to a cute face as she gets older!)!

Theresa painted this scene in a couple of days. You can stare at it for minutes and still not see all the details. If you can feel the energy of this one, then you'll have to agree with me when I say I think it sprung right out of our little country girl's heart!

And Lizzy! Geeze that girl... We can't keep up with her. Just took these pictures yesterday and already she has more beauties not captured here. I think her work really exceeds that of a 13yo and is a real voice for her quiet heart.

Lizzy has been in discussion with me about starting up her own blog as a space to share her artwork and stories. Pretty soon hopefully! It will be linked here, so you'll get to see it. I think she's also getting ready (confident enough) to post some of her work for sale in her own section of (coming soon!)

Standing at the sink washing dishes today, I was thinking about how I'm doing with my new years guidelines. I must admit, I fell out of the habit a bit around the week leading up to the grand opening of our new shop, and spent way more hours on the computer than I even care to tally, but overall, I was pleased to note that most of the guidelines are pretty habitual I think.

-A brisk walk and a romp in the snow with Kady (our dog) was my gift to myself.
-This blog post is my gift to someone else (Grandma; because I know how much you love seeing our art!) -Cleaning the floor was my effort at bettering our space.
-Listing products, conversing with customers and working on new items was my work in the shop.
-Lastly, for cultivating my creativity, I learned a new song on the guitar and now I'm off to finish writing chapter 40 in my book (can't wait to finish!).

I want to add more to the guidelines, but with the shortness of these winter days, it feels like a lot just to get those simple goals met, so I guess I'd better keep 'em easy.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

That Family...

Hello Readers!

 I have some very exciting news. This family has opened a new online store front! We are now "" (note that this blog has been renamed

TODAY is our 'grand opening' and I'm so proud of every product listed; I would be thrilled if you humored me and took a browse through our virtual shelves. :D 

There is also a new About Us and Meet the Family sections on the left handed sidebar of the new shop!

Andrew, Dad and I have all been working pretty much since the first of the year on this project. December was a great month for us in our Etsy shops, but we were also a bit surprised at the percentage that Etsy ended up creaming off the top and decided it was time to start building up on our own. It's a bit intimidating to be trying this without the guarantee of views that Etsy offers, but with your help and some determination, I think we can bring the new shop to everybody's attention. :)

This is something I feel very good about. Working with our hands to craft products of natural materials for the beauty of your home, health, and the environment and for the betterment of family. I feel good about every product that leaves our workshop; everything is still encrypted with the beauty of nature and the simplicity of handmade. Unlike a walmart special, our gifts and decor are so real that they are sure to be received as a special treat to your human senses, being so natural they will never leave you with that feeling of cluttering your life or home.

 From the time I was young, my favorite past times were working with my hands and gifting to others and I'm so grateful to now be able to call it 'my job.' One of my biggest 'joys of the job', is being able to provide real items to babies and children that are young enough to feel the stark difference in their little hands. 

I never realized how much of an impact something real could make on a child until I started gifting our two year old with real toys and noticed the ones I made her with acyclic yarn and poly fill being sorely neglected in the closet ever after. Even the brightly colored plastic blocks (treasures from my toddler hood!) were never seen again when there were real, natural alternatives around!

 I was really quite surprised at Donna's natural preference and that's when I decided to make the switch to using exclusively natural materials for our toys and we opened the FunnyFarmToyBarn--much to the delight of all the playful toy makers in this family!

Now, two years later, our shops have merged together, grown and blossomed. We have also grown in our experience, both as craftsmen and salesmen, and we have glowing feedback coming in almost everyday from happy customers and I am even more passionate and excited now than ever! 

 ❤ My heart is in everything I do because I believe and feel so good about every, single, little, detail of my job, and I know I am blessed in this way! ❤ 


I do not wish to push our products on you in any way, but if you were contemplating a purchase from please note that every sale made today on our grand opening (Sun. Jan. 13th) will include a free bar of our wonderful healing EM soap!

There is also a coupon sale code: GRANDOPEN active now for 10% discount store wide, valid until next Sunday, Jan. 30th.

Thank you for your reading time, your browse of our new shop and your continued support of our family! 

Snowing today. You might think that to be rather everyday news for Jan. 13 in the U.P, but in actuality, it's a rather new sight this winter, welcomed by some and begrudged by others in this house. It covers the frozen grass and dirt, which some of us were rather excited about seeing yesterday. Oh well. I turn back to my crafts with a sigh while the boys happily pull out their snowboards; snowboards that have not gotten the chance to slide down a hill yet this winter. And that's what winter is for, after all, isn't it? Crafting and snowboarding? My flowers aren't silly enough to be tricked into being roused by a midwinter thaw anyway, no matter how many birds, tree buds or hopeful girls get tricked by it every year. ;-) 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Follow-Up on an Awesome Gift..

Hey everybody! Andrew here.. I decided to do a follow-up on the handmade Christmas gift I received from Mary (technically it was from all of the girls, but this was really Mary's brainchild..) As you may recall it was an awesome cymbal-clock "kit", made from a poor discarded, badly cracked and otherwise useless cymbal of mine. I say "kit", because it was malfunctioning after being subjected to the rough Christmas wrapping and de-wrapping process, and needed a bit of reassembly. I think Mary felt a little bad about giving a "faulty" gift, but honestly, some of my favorite gifts have been kits and if she had just presented it as one I would have never been the wiser.
Anyway, it's working great now, and was such a clever idea for someone who is admittedly very difficult to make for, that I just had to share some pics. Maybe you can turn some of your own junk into a useful piece of wall art!
Mary used a couple of my broken sticks for the hands. She simply flattened them and glued them to the original hands, which conveniently pop off the shaft pretty easily.

As you can see, she had plenty of broken sticks to choose from, and I never noticed a couple missing. I've used them to make coat hooks before, so this is actually the second time I was glad I didn't throw them away!

So, here's the finished product. Originally there were no numbers and it looked a little more classy, but I could never tell what the time was at a glance... I thought about chopping up more stick tips and gluing them around the edge in place of the numbers, but ended up taking the lazy way out. What do you think--does it have a kind of raw-resourceful-utilitarian style, or is it just cheesy?

The heart of the clock was stripped from a dollar-store special and super-glued in place. The gorilla tape and cord make a sturdy hanger.

Aaand here it is, gracing the wall over our antique mixing board. Pretty sweet, methinks.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Stroking Creativity and Brush

Hey All!

Dad just walked through the living room and paused, mug of tea in hand, to study some of the kid's recent artwork. With a proud grin, he commented how neat it is that our family goes through these random phases of creativity together. 
This most recent phase has been one expressed with brush and paint:



Myself (blush):

 Lizzy again:

And again, Lizzy:

And again, Lizzy:
(As you can see, creativity comes freely to her and she has cultivated a hand that grows a scene with rapid ease.)

And me, again:

As I've said before, I believe our family is living a lifestyle that cultivates creativity, but I think it also helps that we live together as a family to spurn on these 'creative phases' communally. Just like we did with our family story writing phase. 

Donna actually started this latest one, begging me to paint with her and when I asked her why, she said she wanted to make a get well card for her friend who wasn't feeling well. I really couldn't refuse her after that could I? ;)

 With the supplies out all over the table, the creativity, paint and mess are all flowing strong right now! I love it. :)

I'm a believer that every person is an artist, because there are as many kinds of art as there are people. 

There is no such thing as a bad painting, there are only different tastes in art. 

And flowing free on a breeze of inspiration, with paintbrush in hand, is so exhilarating to the mind!!

If you think this kind of 'creativity stroking' is something you and your family members could benefit from, but feel self conscious or stifled, I'd suggest hosting a family painting night and overcoming yourself with the support of family. If your ideas are slow coming, you can look at pictures online or even fill a jar with things to paint and have everybody pick one: "a rainbow," "a butterfly," etc. Remember: there is no such thing as an ugly butterfly when it materializes through the mind and brush of a unique and beautiful person! 

You can feel good in the knowledge that you are stroking your inner creative artist with every swipe of your brush and who knows--you may be harboring a locked up artist who has been just waiting to come out and express your unique self with a creativity you didn't know you had! 
Either way, I encourage you to try and let him out. ;)


 p.s. Kindly note the new blog url on my banner. We're now "", though the old url will continue to work as well.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Hey Everybody!

 Guess what? We're now living in 2013--Awesome! :)

I'm not really a resolutions type of girl. I tend to be overly dogmatic (a habit I'm trying to break), and then I become frustrated when I'm unable to fulfill my resolutions completely. So, this year, I decided to come up with kind of a new year's 'guideline' instead of 'resolution'. The past year was a real year of growth for me. I felt more keenly observant than ever before, and among the things I was observant of, I was paying attention to what it is that makes me happy and since I want to resolve to be happy in 2013, ;-) it was around those things that I've come up with my new year's guideline. 

So, in no particular order, I'd like to, every day:
  • Do something for someone else.
  • Do something for myself.
  • Do something to better our space.
  • Do some work for the shops.
  • Do something that cultivates my creativity.

-Doing something for someone else could be as simple as a hug or brushing my little sister's hair, to patching pants or mending my brother's socks.

-Doing something for myself will be anything from jogging to indulging in cookies. ;) Taking time for myself in a special way makes me appreciate myself more, whether it's a homemade spa or a good book, I need to take the time and believe that I deserve it.

-I've always loved bettering our space, but not always the nitty gritty of it. Doing a job that needs to be done that I keep putting off, is so satisfying, whether it's cleaning, decorating, gardening, home improvements or anything that is improving our frequented space in some small way.

-Working for the shops is something I usually do every day anyway, and it makes me happy because it's my way of providing for myself. Taking a more specific amount of time for that daily will help them to improve and grow more quickly, methinks. :)

-Ah, yes! And something to cultivate my creativity! This is what I'm most excited about. :) Perhaps this could have gone under the 'doing something for myself' category, because that's what it is, but the difference is, that category is for my physical self and creativity is something that enhances my mental self. Right now, my imagination is deeply sunken in my latest novel and I've set aside a goal to write a chapter a day on that, but creativity comes in a lot of forms for me and it could be painting a picture, learning music, or any kinds of imaginative planning or plotting.

So, as you can see, I've observed for myself that things that make me happy are things that satisfy, improve and challenge me.

Calling this a guideline helps to make me less dogmatic about it. If I'm not able to do everything in one day (gosh these winter days feel short!), I won't stress over it, but I find having the list as a daily guideline is helpful on those days when I'm feeling lazy.

What are some of your resolutions / guidelines for 2013?

(btw- special thanks to our furry baby Kynna for being so eager to decorate this post with her mug today! ;-)