Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March Miscellany

March has been jam-packed with fun activities for us. We started off the month with a fake surprise party for Desiree’s 60th birthday at Rescue’s Smokehouse. She has been no-so-subtly hinting that she wanted a big blow out party but we had a double whammy in the works. We had a thinly veiled “surprise party” at Rescue’s Friday night with a “dismal” turnout, a store-bought cake, and no gifts. There were about 15 of us there. We really got her and caught her off guard when the big surprise party was held without a catch the next day on Saturday when she was feted by 50 or 60 of her friends and family! Amanda even made a cake with all 60 candles on it!
IMG_6627 IMG_6645
I love this shot of Wyatt cleaning up his playroom in his pjs. He wants to vacuum all the time and it’s just a fun Saturday morning around our house. I really wish he would keep this up for the next 15 or 20 years but I think I’m going to find myself out of luck in that department.
The kids found this adorable little turtle in the yard at Sheldon and Desiree’s house one night. Before they let it go, I had to snap a detail shot of its shell—look at the detail!
IMG_6778 IMG_6782
Justin cured some pork belly from when we butchered the hog and we had the chance to slice it up. I mentioned this on Instagram when I posted a picture: “Women of the world I STRONGLY urge you to not seek out a man that will just bring home the bacon. Find one that will butcher it, cure it, smoke it, and then lets you slice it on his big mamma jamma slicer. And THEN he cooks up a few pieces for a late night snack!” I’ve got a fun and amazing husband, that’s for sure!
IMG_6794 IMG_6801
On one of our Friday night visits to LaHa in Ashburn, Justin got an enormous margarita. Liam and Wyatt were dying to have some but since the alcohol content could power a race car, Jorge whipped them up some non-alcoholic strawberry frozen drinks. The Gonzalez family is so good to us. They love Wyatt and Liam and do everything they can to make our boys feel special! That is the real beauty of living in a small town.
IMG_6868 IMG_6869
Of course, Pax man showed all the cuteness he contains with his little hooded baby blanket that night, too!
A few weekends ago Mama, Daddy, Sami, Wyatt, and I loaded up in the truck to head down to Jacksonville to find some treasures. Our main stop was Eco Relics, an architectural salvage store. I have been dying to visit and it was a really neat place. First, we stopped at the Florida Welcome Center for a potty break and fresh orange juice. They have an amazing visitors center!
IMG_6875 IMG_6878 IMG_6881
Sadly, Eco Relics was a disappointment. Pricing was inflated and way out of my range. I know I am just used to South Georgia prices. It’s part of my cheap heritage—I come from a long line of cheapskates. I would say that the huge warehouse was about 2/3 remnants from a hardware warehouse, 1/3 reclaimed architectural elements.
Their vintage factory carts in marginal condition started out at $449! We bought our cart in Georgia for $100 and could have had three at that price.
We didn’t strike out completely though. We ran into our cousins Katherine and Jennifer and they sent us to an antique store called Sugar Bear’s.  I scored the cutest cafĂ© patio set in lime green for $45, got a framed mirror a friend had been looking for for less than $20, and Wyatt got a Cat in the Hat from his Pop. Thankfully it wasn’t a completely wasted trip!
IMG_6952 IMG_6954
Sami made this adorable embroidered piece for my kitchen for Christmas, but she finally remembered to get it to me. I love it! It totally fits me to a “T.”
Another fun project I have recently started tackling is embossing. Sami bought an embosser and makes her own custom stationery. I fell in love with the process and snatched up an embosser and a multi-pack of embossing powders at JoAnn’s when they were on sale. I love these little mason jar tags we can use for our home canned goods. I hope to host a preserving swap on day this summer and I think they would be the perfect way to identify products.
Wyatt got to tag along with Jake, Ben, and Rivers’s homeschool group to visit the Air Evac unit in Cordele and also the Cordele Fire Department. Justin was on duty that day and loved hosting the kids. Wyatt even told me that the “helicopter nurse” told them not to text and drive. I am amazed to see how these simple visits stick with even the smallest kids.
IMG_7065 IMG_7066
I tell you what. Three year olds are so fun. They have no reservations wearing swim goggles for supper. I love that Wyatt is his own person and has a free spirit!
Fourteen years ago, “Goober” was the cutest boy I could set my eyes on and we started dating. We made it through my high school and college years, got married, and had Wyatt. Two houses later, we are still the same sweethearts we started out as so long ago. We spent our “anniversary” playing bingo with our families at the Fire Ant Festival fundraiser having a ball.
This child--the one I can BARELY DRAG out of bed for school by 7 a.m.--was positively BOUNCING at 6:00 a.m. fully dressed and ready to go turkey hunting with his daddy. I’m glad Justin is so involved with Wyatt. There are so many kids these days that don’t have a good paternal influence and it is one of my greatest blessings in life!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

First Fun on the Farm 2015

The Cook/Mastrario/Mathis family made our first trip of 2015 out to Calhoun Produce for their spring Fun on the Farm. We had a blast! Justin and Daddy weren’t able to make it but I think it was a wonderful way to spend the day.
IMG_7093 IMG_7107
Pax got to sit on the bouncy horse with his Aunt Sami’s help and then promptly fell asleep on the wagon ride when we were looking at the animals. The farm has lots of new babies around this time of year including a three week old llama!
IMG_7095 IMG_7111
We picked lots of fresh strawberries and I have been eating them all week! It’s still early in the season so I had to refrain from picking all of them. They don’t ripen after they’re picked. I imagine mid-April will be perfect for picking jam berries so I can restock my strawberry preserves stockpile.
Wyatt’s favorite part of visiting Calhoun Produce is by far the pig races. Baby piglets race around a small track with the promise of Oreo cookies for finishing. Wyatt’s purple pig won the race so he got a pig nose.
After all the fun, we finished up our time at Calhoun’s with chicken salad croissants, pimento cheese sandwiches, and strawberry bars, paired of course with strawberry slushes!
I love the Calhoun family; they’re always smiling and welcoming. This is a great way to spend time with kids. They really get the chance to run and play and see how things grow in South Georgia. I can’t wait until our next visit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chicken Update #2

Justin has been working long and hard to get our chicken coop done. I am so proud of him and the hard work he has been putting in over the past month. More on that later though. I plan to do a long post about the coop and its features soon enough! When the coop was move-in ready, Justin and I loaded the chicks into a dog kennel to transfer them across the yard from the brooder to the coop. They were packed in, but only for about 3 minutes.
Here they are in their fresh, clean, new space. They are no longer fuzzy chicks! I like to say they’re in their awkward teenage stage—not quite chicks, not quite full grown.
IMG_6749 IMG_6761
We quickly realized that the poo makes for a very slippery surface after I almost busted my butt changing out their water one day and bought pine shavings to create traction. Much better and it cuts down on the smells too!
IMG_6822 IMG_6835
For fun we put our yard cat, referred to as “Kitty Kitty”, in the coop for a few minutes while we were out there one day. I thought she would be amazed by the chickens, but she was surprisingly scared of them. She cowered away from them. I suppose 24 chickens pecking and clucking around can be overwhelming!
Justin is the chicken whisperer. We want the chickens to be handled and used to us being around in case we need to treat them for diseases or injuries. They are still mostly skittish despite us handling them every day.
Justin finally fenced in the run and the chicks now have full reign of their domain. They seem to eat all at the same time despite having food and water available on demand 24/7!
We have really good neighbors and an especially nice mail man. We found a note from him in our mailbox one day saying he saw a fox coming out of our back yard near the coop. We have had concerns about foxes in the area and took precautions to make it difficult for them to get into the coop and run. I was on the back porch one morning drinking my tea and it casually walked through the back yard, stopping to stare at the cats and me with no fear. That same morning, I went to check on the chickens and it was sitting next to the coop, splayed out like a dog. Again, it had no fear of me even when I shot out with my pistol. We now have a neighborhood watch going on. Neighbors and friends are sending me texts and emails every time they see it. We might have to have a fox hunt soon enough!
IMG_7039 IMG_7080 IMG_7088

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Pasta Classes

One thing I am most thankful for is my mama teaching me how to cook. I am not a great cook, but I can do several things well and they are good, go-to meals and recipes that I know I can depend on. She has taught me how to make pasta, ravioli, lasagna, home made sauce, and tons of other simple fare that wows. The few times we all got together to make homemade pasta and ravioli, I got a ton of interest from other people that wanted to know if I taught classes. I had never thought about doing something like that before.
Justin encouraged me to get up a plan to make it an experience that allows people to take home everything they need to make their own pasta. I put out some feelers and immediately scheduled two classes (11 people!).
I spent some time looking for some good resources and made a booklet with our family’s sauce recipe, some tips and tricks of the trade we have learned from experience, an alfredo recipe, our lasagna recipe, and our pepperoni bread recipe. It also included a photo tutorial for people to reference after they have completed the class and want a brief update.
One of the surprisingly more costly pieces of the supply list was the pasta drying rack. It would make my profit diminish considerably. Justin, great as he is, said, “I can make those cheaply and simply!” Off to Lowe’s we went with a general idea of what we needed.  We whipped out 20 racks in less than two hours. I am so impressed with his ingenuity and willingness to help with all of my little side projects.
IMG_6392 IMG_6391
Getting the pasta machines in was like Christmas! I love spending other people’s money—I’d be a great personal shopper—and it was fun to unbox these machines for my participants. I loaded up the supply baskets with the machines, kitchen tools, and recipe books.
IMG_6449 IMG_6452
I think everyone that has participated in the classes has had a good time. I have to say when I started the idea of this class, I never even thought about making it a couples’ class but the husband/wife duos have had a great time. Hopefully, spreading the love of Italian cooking and the things my mama has taught me will have a positive impact on some of them!
IMG_6678 IMG_6513

Thursday, March 12, 2015


My blog friend Brandi starting using the hashtag #ThriftScoreThursday on her Instagram and I was very intrigued. I tracked down the source of such fun and found that four lovely ladies, Black & White Obsession, For My Love OfPrimitive and Proper,  and The Gathered Home host a link up for everyone to post their super finds from thrift stores, junk shops, antique stores, and flea markets. I have been really having a ball seeing everyone’s great deals!
I’ve been traveling a ton and have had the chance to score some great deals as we curate our home.
I got this Thirty-One magazine basket (used for TP storage in our bathroom) and a ton of white Corelle plates  (I’ve been hunting for some for months) at different Goodwills. I like the plain white Corelle plates because they are almost impossible to break and I now have enough that I can host a shower with real table wear now.
IMG_6109 IMG_6112 
Justin and I love estate sales. I signed up with estatesales.net to get alerts for all of the estate sales in our area. I get an email on Thursdays of the ones that are that weekend. We traveled to Leslie, Georgia to a veterinarian’s downtown building. We walked in and were quickly disappointed. I was expecting cool vet tools and gadgets, etc. We found out the building went on around the corner and upstairs and had lots of fun digging around. We scored 14 old window frames and a whole trailer load of reclaimed barn wood and tongue-and-groove bead board (more on that in a later post). We quickly posted the windows to Facebook and sold them to our friends and made our money back from our entire purchase! So basically we got the load of wood for free with the exception of our time and gas money!
IMG_6177 IMG_6195
This one isn’t a thrift score, but I occasionally come across some gems at Dollar Tree and I have to say this is one of them. I bought an Air Curler, something I had seen on one of those TV informercials. I think most of that stuff doesn’t work as well as they advertise, but for $1 I’d give it a try. I can’t work a curling iron to save my life and I am always pining for soft curls and waves. Lo and behold, the sucker worked! I am pleasantly surprised with this tool!
I grabbed up some peach box labels at the Antique Theater in Perry. I didn’t get a picture of all of them here, but they will be great for my gallery wall. These are only $1!
I am not a clever person. Occasionally I can come up with some unique repurposing thing for the house, but most of my ideas come from Pinterest or blogs. I am lucky I stumbled upon this smart vendor at Pickin’ Peanuts Marketplace in Ashburn for only $8! They stuck a taper candle in an old wheel and it has a very happy home on my factory cart table.
Justin wins the score of the year so far! We have been oogly-googly over these countertop scales. Saturday morning he called and told me he made an executive decision and pulled the trigger and bought one. I was a little flustered because we haven’t seen them for less than $200. He scored this Hobart scale and Hobart meat slicer (one of our we’d-love-it-but-will-never-afford-it things) for $100 total! I am so proud of his keen eye for quality when he sees it. For kicks, we looked up both on eBay and they each start out around $250 each!
IMG_6639 IMG_6640 IMG_6638
All of this being said, people constantly ask us where we find our stuff and how we get such great deals. It’s not always easy. We strike out often. We have a running wish list and an idea of what we would like to pay for things. For example, I want an old square tobacco basket but they retail for $100 or more. I just KNOW if I’m patient enough I’ll find one at an estate sale or yard sale from someone who wants to get rid of it for a song. Patience, grasshopper.
I mentioned on Instagram that hunting for these sweet deals is like that princess that has to kiss a lot of frogs to find her prince. In my case, it’s sifting through giant warehouses of junk or looking over fancy signs like this at tens of Goodwills: