I love this time of year when the air turns cool and the leaves are bright and cheerful. I feel lucky to have four seasons. Here are some scenes from my autumn. Happy day to you.
I love this time of year when the air turns cool and the leaves are bright and cheerful. I feel lucky to have four seasons. Here are some scenes from my autumn. Happy day to you.
We wound our way through the tamarack, maple, birch, cedar and pine of North Idaho, where the fog filtered the light of the morning, creating a dream-like drive. Cool, crisp and misty. The road turned to dirt and the trees softly opened up to a clearing where a tiny cabin snuggled up to the edge of the trees and a campfire was burning.
We gathered around the fire and listened to him describe his life's passion: His library in the woods, hand-built from mostly salvaged materials, in what he described as his installation, a living work of art, and he, the artist. Each book added to his library likened to that of a painter, adding brush strokes to a painting. One by one.
The library sits above the meadow, facing the swimming pond below,
the tiny cabin (living quarters),
and wildlife pond, where the spring-fed water runs so deep and cold year-round you don't dare take a dip.
Entering the library, the rest of the world is left at the door. No need for phones, computers or time. This is a place to lose and regain oneself.
Where one cozy room tumbles into the next, and so on, and so on, and so on.
What is it about an artist that inspires? Can the world be better because of one's creations? What if we treated and lived our lives as if our days were our life's work? I think we lose sight of that sometimes.
Library (left) and cabin living quarters (right).
Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life. ~Abraham Lincoln
Since sharing Floyd & Margaret's story here a few days ago, their story has spread across the country. Most recently, the Today Show ran a story which included a mention of Margaret's oatmeal cookies as well as a link to my blog. (You can read my tribute to Floyd and Margaret by clicking here). Because of the overwhelming amount of traffic my blog is receiving, I thought it'd be appropriate to share Margaret's Special Oatmeal Cookie recipe with you, just as Margaret did for us the first time she welcomed us into her kitchen:
Margaret's Special Oatmeal Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Margaret uses apple pie spice)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks) (Margaret uses margarine)
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix the batter: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the flour, rolled oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating on low speed just until well combined.
Bake the cookies: Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies just until lightly browned on the bottom and the tops are set - 9-11 minutes. Don't overcook, or they won't be soft. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for 1 minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 30 three-inch cookies
Re-printed from The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen.
Floyd always said there was something Margaret did to make her cookies so good and we agreed. They were most special when shared in Margaret's kitchen.
I spent the day in Otello, Washington yesterday, digging through the McLean family farm. If there's one thing I love about what I do (and I'm sure you already know this) it's getting invited to dig through farms and barns. But this time was a little different and it has me happier than ever...
The purpose of this dig wasn't for me to find things for myself, instead, it was to pull everything I loved from this farm together to raise money for the Air National Guard's 242 Booster Association. A farm finds collection, curated by me and all for a good cause.
Now let me tell you, digging through these old buildings is not for the faint of heart. They're typically packed to the rafters, dirty, and a little sketchy, structure wise.
I learned a great deal about these old places from my dad who always taught me to look up. Lots of great finds in the rafters and this day was no exception.
Yep, I even dug out a sweet old motorcycle.
Good old junk, as far as the eye can see...
What did I find? What did I love? My curated collection of farm finds is available now, for a limited time, at Paint in My Hair in Spokane, Washington.
Mike and Stan, with the 242 Booster Association and me, after a long day of digging at the McLean Farm.
Special thanks to the McLean family for donating all their good old farm finds.
Thanks to Paint in My Hair for selling this curated collection to benefit the Booster Association. **Paint in My Hair is having a fun "Girls Day Out" event at their store this Saturday. Click here for more details!
And biggest thanks to everyone who serves in our armed forces, and their families who sacrifice so much for the good of our country.
Over the next week or two I'll be sharing a series of short films from The 2013 Farm Chicks Antiques Show. The first focuses on beloved show sponsor, Harry and David. Thank you to Harry and David for the generous support of The Farm Chicks Antiques Show and providing such a yummy treat to so many shoppers!
Today I made the drive out to Floyd and Margaret's, two unlikely friends I made while on a drive one afternoon about ten years ago with my parents. Over the years and after many visits to their farm, I grew to love and admire them and their endless love for one another. I'm heartbroken to say their lives ended last night when they were involved in a car accident while running an errand. But I don't want that to be their story. Their story is that of love, deep and true.
If you've read my first book, you may remember reading about Floyd and Margaret. Today, I'm sharing their story once again. We first met Floyd when we stopped by his farm to inquire about his enormous junkyard on the back side of his property. He was walking up the dirt road to his house from the lower pasture where he'd been tending to his cattle. His old flannel shirt was worn and dotted with scrap patches that had been meticulously hand-stitched into place. His face was deeply creased, almost scowl-like, and his eyes were dark and full of wisdom. His voice was gruff when he spoke, contradicting the small bouquet of wildflowers he was carrying, which he had just picked for his wife, Margaret. Margaret stood with eyes twinkling and beamed as Floyd handed her the flowers. In seeing her reaction, Floyd's face erupted in an ear-to-ear grin, erasing the years of hard work reflected in his face. He told us that he always picked flowers for Margaret and said he felt like they were married just yesterday. He grinned boastfully and asked, "How old do you think she is? Isn't she beautiful?" Floyd bragged that he felt like he was 18 years old and attributed that to 80-something years of "no booze, one woman, and the love of God". Needless to say, we've learned a lot from Floyd and Margaret, a lot in part just by watching the two of them interact. We've purchased truckloads of old goods and salvage from their property over the years, and on every occasion, Floyd is as ornery as ever. He doesn't like to part with anything that could be of future use on the farm and likes to know what we'll do with each of the items we buy. One of his favorites is the necklaces we've made from his vintage wallpaper. On one occasion, we found a pile of license plates, and Teri was interested in one that was from our neighboring state of Idaho. He set a high price, explaining that the license plates were useful and that he could do something with them someday. He gruffly asked her what she wanted it for. She told him it bore the year of her birth, and that she'd hang it on the wall in her house. He looked at her, smiled, and the price went down. Recently, Floyd has found it difficult to mow the lawn on his own. In true-love fashion, he and Margaret now push the lawnmower together. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ After the book was published, I surprised Floyd and Margaret with a copy of their own and wrote about it here. I'm re-posting it now: March 16, 2009
I went to visit Floyd & Margaret today. When I called, I said, "Hi Floyd!, it's Serena". "How's business?", he asked. "It's good", I said, "but that's not why I'm calling. I have a surprise. Are you going to be home for a little while?" "Maybe we will, maybe we won't", he replied, in his standard matter-of-fact style that we've grown so accustomed to. "Well, I'll take my chances", I said. When I pulled up to their house, no-one was around. When I got out of the car, I heard Margaret calling out, "YOOOO-HOOOOO!" WE"RE DOWN HERE." The wind in the fields was whipping so hard it took my breath away. By the time I reached them, I was shaking like a leaf. But not them. They were hard at work, feeding the cows. Margaret stopped what she was doing and turned to me with a warm smile on her face. I was really excited to show them the book and the story we included about them. And after seeing their feature in the book, Floyd said with a grin, "I don't look a day older, and I sure don't feel like it either. Did you know the Doctor says I have the blood of a 20 year-old? And look at Margaret! She's never dyed her hair, even once. Still the same beautiful hair she's always had!", he said, pointing to the wisp of hair peeking out of her scarf. I couldn't help but smile. And shiver. It was really cold. And after a nice visit, Floyd finally said that it was time to get back to work. Next stop, the neighbor's hundred acre parcel down the road, where there were more cattle to feed. And as he and Margaret jointly lifted another bale of hay onto the four-wheeler, he turned and said, "God is good, Serena. God is good." And as I drove the long way home, my mind wandered, thinking about my family, my love for Colin and the boys, and hopes and dreams. I can only hope that everyone of us can be as happy and blessed as Floyd and Margaret. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hello there. How was your weekend? Ours was as beautiful as ever. Here's what life looked like at the Thompson's.
A Fall Song
Golden and red trees Nod to the soft breeze, As it whispers, “Winter is near;” And the brown nuts fall At the wind’s loud call, For this is the Fall of the year.
Goodbye, sweet flowers! Through bright Summer hours You have filled our hearts with cheer We shall miss you so, And yet you must go, For this is the Fall of the year.
Now the days grow cold, As the year grows old, And the meadows are brown and sere; Brave robin redbreast Has gone from his nest, For this is the Fall of the year.
I do softly pray At the close of day, That the little children, so dear, May as purely grow As the fleecy snow That follows the Fall of the year.
~Ellen Robena Field
I've always enjoyed making the most out of what I have in my surroundings for decorating around our home. This is especially true when the seasons change and I'm looking to make the front porch warm and welcoming. This year my sunflower patch brought me so much joy that I wanted to make sure to use lots of the dried up flowers.
I've also really loved the decorative corn that Byron planted and decided to gather up a bunch of the beautiful cobs. I cut off a bunch of the plant tops too.
When I'm decorating for the season, I like to treat the elements just as I do for a photo shoot where I'd have a prop table or two, full of props. In this instance, I just lined up the elements. It's a really nice way to go about it because then I can clearly see exactly what I have to work with and keeps things nice and organized. This year, I really wanted to keep it simple, and not use many elements. Just sunflowers, corn, and a few pumpkins or squash.
I took some simple twine and tied a bunch of the sunflowers together, then pulled them into a circle and tied it off, making a wreath, which I hung on the front door. I love how cheery it is and the fact that it was free!
I placed the bit of corn tops and the largest sunflower heads in a bushel basket and placed them on a little farm table next to the front door, along with a squash.
Next, I filled an old galvanized tub with the corn. Isn't that corn the most beautiful thing ever?
And that's it. Later in the month, the boys will carve pumpkins and place them on the porch wherever they'd like.
The weekend starts early for us this week, as there's no school tomorrow for the boys, so today is our Friday, which is my FAVORITE day of the week! I'll see you again here on Monday. xoxo
I've been volunteering some time at my grange during Apple Festival where one of the vendors sells the most delicious aebleskivers served with a choice of applesauce and caramel, huckleberry, or boysenberry jam. It got me to thinking that I'd like to make a pumpkin version. I love how these turned out - pretty springy (which is hard to achieve with pumpkin anything), not too sweet, and perfectly representative of autumn. If you don't have an aebleskiver pan, feel free to make pancakes!
Our son's diagnosis with Autism, specifically Asperger's Syndrome, was a big piece to a very unexpected puzzle our lives had become. I've not written about it since last December because honestly, I'm fiercely protective of our son's privacy. How can I balance protecting his privacy with sharing information I think can be helpful to others? This is my attempt. Asperger's Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder considered by many to be the mildest and highest functioning. Because of this, many children go undetected for quite some time or undiagnosed. Once social interaction and life demands increase, symptoms begin to show much more and specific characteristics can vary. For example, some children have difficulty making eye contact when speaking, lack social and conversational skills, and fixate on specific subjects. (Of those three examples, only the last applies to our son). Studies suggest boys are four times more likely than girls to have Asperger's Syndrome. When our boy was about seven, I wondered if he may have Asperger's Syndrome. My curiosity was brought on by his disdain for being touched or hugged, which I found to be unusual considering we didn't experience this with our three other boys. After searching around about "the signs" there were things that didn't match, like the fact that he was very social and had lots of friends, so I dismissed my hunch entirely. Had I spent more time really investigating autism, his life and our lives would have been much easier. I can't stress enough how important having a diagnosis and understanding what's affecting your child is. Yes, it's very helpful for the family, but even more so for the child. For our son, his struggles really became an internal affliction - feeling different, seeing the world in a different way, and processing life differently than others. He slowly became deeply depressed, yet he nor any of us understood why. We visited doctor after doctor who couldn't see beyond the fact that he was depressed. We needed to get beyond that. Yes, he was depressed, but why?! One year after his diagnosis we now understand that many children with Asperger's suffer from depression, brought on by their differences from the mainstream world. For our boy, getting the diagnosis changed everything for him. He was able to understand that yes, he sees the world differently, but he's not crazy, and that's what he'd been thinking all along. I'm different, so I'm crazy. I'm crazy = there's no hope for me. A few of the outward signs in our son: As a child, he was very sensitive to loud noise. Doesn't like to be touched. Fixation on a specific subject: When he first began to walk he began fixating on basketball. He'd climb out of his crib at night and shoot baskets into his little Fisher Price hoop. Over and over and over and over.... saying "Shoot a hoop". "Shoot a hoop". "Shoot a hoop". Put him in his crib, he'd climb back out. Repeat Repeat Repeat. Night after night. When he began to read, the fixation turned to baseball. He'd read the baseball encyclopedia of stats and memorize each player's stats, from the beginning of baseball to current day. He'd listen to old recordings of the World Series, talk incessantly about anything baseball, and collected baseball memorabilia. On the playground, he'd create baseball teams and became manager of players, complete with contracts that he'd write at home and have his friends sign. Highly intelligent and very well read. It's normal for him to check out 20 biographies at a time at the library and read each one. (Of course, each book pertaining to his favorite subject). I want to tell you that life after the diagnosis has been easy but it hasn't. The reality is that learning to live with and manage this is hard work and we take it seriously. Sometimes for half a second, Colin and I wish that we could just take the easy path and not sweat grades, rules, and parenting quite so much. It'd be easier in the short term, that's for sure. But that's not what we signed up for when we made the choice to have these boys of ours. We're obligated to the boys and this world to create fine men, show them the way, and be loving in the process. And I'm not telling you this so that you'll praise us for our parenting. I'm telling you this because it leads me to the last part of what I want to say today about families living with autism. Although this isn't our experience, there are many families with children whose Aspergian meltdowns occur in public. At the store, school, the pool, parties, and family gatherings. I'm not saying any or all occurances you see of what the world would describe as "poorly behaved children" are related to autism. I just ask that when you see this happening, that you show kindness, refrain from judgement and hold these families in your heart. They're doing the best they can, whatever their story may be.
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