Valentine’s Day 2015

I’ve never been the gushy Valentine’s Day hearts and flowers type of girl, and back in my single days, I was quite vocal about this made up holiday as just another excuse to spend money to show you love someone. And heaven forbid, if you didn’t have anyone in your life at the time, society made you feel like there was something wrong with you.

There’s a battle going on at the theater this weekend, and it should come as no surprise that Robert and I want to see the movie “Old Fashioned.” We want to support those who are seeking to bring another message about love and romance to the theaters – one that is pure and wholesome. Obviously, I won’t ever see the “other” movie, nor will I read the books. Philippians 4:8 says, “ Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Why on earth would anyone want to willingly put garbage in their hearts and minds? (Don’t answer that – I really don’t want to know.)

Anyway, in spite of my misgivings about the nature of Valentine’s Day, Robert has made it a goal of his over the years to change my mind. And in a way, he has. Not about the specific day – well, I don’t hate it anymore – but I don’t believe that showing love should be confined to one day a year. But I’ve learned to appreciate the mushy and romantic gestures my wonderful husband comes up with, this year was particularly special.

First, and this was my idea, we headed to historic Commercial Street in Springfield. If you’re a native, you know that this is not the most romantic location in town, and is known for being run down. However, Commercial is home to Askinosie Chocolate – Shawn Askinosie has become one of the premier chocolate makers in the world, and operates his business on a direct trade basis. (Go read his story – it’s really quite amazing.) The point of our little side trip was that we signed up to take a tour of the chocolate factory, which was led by Shawn himself.

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We got to see the not-so-fancy equipment that makes awesome chocolate, and had lots of samples.

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That’s a lot of peanut butter!

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And of course, we had to buy an assortment.

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After our yummy excursion, we headed south to Branson, Missouri. First up was a practical stop at the Tanger Outlets. I wanted to get some replacement Crocs so I wouldn’t fall and break my wrist again, but it was so crazy there and so hard to find a parking spot that we didn’t buy a thing and I ended up ordering my Crocs from Zappos before we were even able to get out of the parking lot.

But we didn’t have much time to shop, because we had dinner reservations at The Keeter Center. You might remember we had an anniversary dinner and Sunday brunch here in December, and liked it so much we returned with my sister and brother-in-law for a Christmas brunch. We’d tried to go last year for Valentine’s Day, but didn’t think about it soon enough and reservations were booked well in advance. This year, though, Robert was on top of it.

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For dinner we got to choose from a fixed menu, with appetizers, salad, entrées, and desserts. I had the roasted Brussels sprouts, the pear salad with goat cheese panna cotta, filet mignon with mashed potatoes and asparagus, and the dessert trilogy of crème caramel, flourless chocolate cake, and ricotta cheesecake. Delicious doesn’t begin to describe it.

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Thanks for a lovely date, sweetie. I love you.

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A Seedy Establishment

Now that the house is essentially finished except for a few more punch list items, our thoughts have turned to the outdoors.  We have just under 6 acres, and have big dreams for our little farm.  Robert wants to start some walnut trees, even though it will be 10-15 years before we see any nuts, and we want to have a mini fruit tree orchard, a vineyard with grapes, blueberries, and blackberries, and then of course, the gardens.  We know that we are being very ambitious, but we’d like to be able to grow most of our own food so that we only have to purchase meat and dairy items.  And chocolate.  I can’t grow chocolate the way I want it.  Or coffee.  Ok, so there’s still a lot we’ll need to buy, but fresh fruits and vegetables I can handle.

We’ve had success with tomatoes in the past, and I’ve even posted before about putting them up for the winter by making sauces and stewing them.  So that’s a given.  But now that we have the space, we want to plant more varieties, as well as have a strawberry patch, herb garden, and some wildflowers just for fun (although we will eat the sunflower seeds).  Then there’s the salad garden with lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, garlic, and onions.  We eventually want to plant some potatoes and sweet potatoes, as well as pumpkins in the fall.  We’ve got a lot to learn about the complex timing of when to start seeds, when to transplant, frost dates, and when to harvest.  But we’re going to give it a shot, so expect to see a lot more gardening posts as the year progresses.

But seeds – let’s talk about seeds.  When we were in Maui last fall, there was a lot of publicity about GMO foods, or genetically modified organisms.  Let me just say that I have not done much research on this issue, so my opinion is just that – my opinion.  And my opinion is that man cannot improve upon anything that God created.   I’d heard several years ago about the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, and knew it was located in Mansfield, Missouri, but had never been.  Honestly, I was more interested in the “heirloom” aspect of their seeds, but to learn that they were non-GMO was another plus.

So last Sunday when we had a beautiful 70 degree day – you know, typically for Missouri in February – Robert and I took a road trip.

At first we thought we were trespassing on someone’s property, LOL.

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But then we arrived at the Pioneer Village, which is supposedly the longest-lasting homestead in Missouri.

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There were sheep!

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We’ll have to come back in the summer when the gardens are in full swing.

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The seed store had more seeds than you could imagine, including some hard to find varieties of many plants.

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The restaurant was closed due to winter hours, but we’re curious to try it out.

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We did hit the flour mill and brought home a loaf of this gorgeous oatmeal bread.  It was delicious!

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We are privileged to have such a cool source of seeds just a ways down the road.  It was a perfect Sunday afternoon drive.

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Klutz!

A couple of Saturdays ago we made so much progress in the garage; it was definitely an early birthday present to me to see this part of the house come together. After a few hours, we were done working and getting ready for my birthday dinner. Robert headed out with another load of cardboard and to pick up cupcakes from The Cup.

I’d put the chili on to warm up when Melvin showed up to work on our outdoor stuff. I went out to talk to him when, wheeee! My 10-year old Crocs I was wearing that had zero tread remaining hit the one patch of mud by the driveway and down I went.

My wrist didn’t hurt as much as my pride as I tried to laugh it off saying, “Well, I guess I have to do another load of laundry now.” But it was swelling up, so I went inside to put ice on it and take some Advil. I called Robert and told him I didn’t think it was broken, but asked him to buy a brace for me.

He wanted me to go to Urgent Care, and for the record, offered to drive me, but I refused. My wonderful, amazing niece is getting married and she was trying on bridal gowns that afternoon and I was not going to miss out. Somehow, I managed to get my seat belt buckled and drove to David’s Bridal, where she found the most beautiful dress ever. But afterwards, my fingers had swollen, my hand was throbbing, and I had extremely limited range of motion in my wrist. I decided to stop at Urgent Care on the way home for x-rays.

The doctor was funny as he said, “Good news! There are no major breaks.” “Um, what about minor ones?” That’s when I learned that I had an avulsion fracture in my left wrist. For the record, it hurt as bad as it sounded.
Armed with a new brace for the next two weeks, I headed home. It’s incredible all the things you can’t do without both hand, or at least not easily. On the passenger side of the car, I was completely unable to buckle and unbuckle my seatbelt. Washing my hair one-handed was a challenge, as was directing Robert on how to put my hair in a ponytail.

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And, of course, that meant no knitting or spinning for two weeks, but I managed to survive. I got caught up on a lot of reading, and worked on our tax documents. Now that I’m free, you’ll find me playing with yarn as much as possible!

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Designing a Custom Home – Part 14 – Remodeling Already?

So you build a brand new house, move in, and not too long after something happens. As you get to know your new home, you start thinking “I wish we’d done this,” or “I wish that wasn’t that way,” or “How did we forget to . . .?” But at any rate, you want to change something.

Maybe this makes you feel guilty. After all, you just invested a huge chunk of time, energy, and money into building a home. Is it reasonable to think you ought to change something so soon? The answer is maybe.

First of all, let go of the guilt. Whether you made a mistake in design, forgot something, or just want something different, that’s ok. It’s your house and you’re the one who has to live there. As our contractor told us all along, anything can be changed – it just costs money.

Second, give it some time. Don’t rush into making any changes you aren’t absolutely certain about. After living with a feature you aren’t entirely happy with for a while, you may come to discover that it’s not as important as you first thought, and you can live with it. Especially for bigger changes like blowing out walls or building additions, you’ll want to make sure that you’re up for those changes, both with the budget and the investment of time in tearing up your new house. (For the record, Robert and I aren’t considering anything structural like this.)

Last, make sure your changes are in the budget. It’s always less expensive to do something the first time than it is to retrofit, so consider if you really want to spend the money to make the change. If you do, and it won’t cause financial hardship for your family, go for it.

So what changes are we making?

Well, this winter has been a letdown so far as we were expecting a couple more polar vortexes, but we’ve discovered that our garage is a little colder than we’d like. We learned that most homes have some heat leakage from the house into the garage which keeps it a little more temperate, but our house is so energy efficient that that isn’t happening. So we’re going to add some blown in insulation right above the garage ceiling. It’s a relatively inexpensive addition that we think is worth the cost.

For all the times we were in the house during construction, and even after we moved, it wasn’t until a couple of months later when I finally got around to decorating our built in bookshelves that I noticed something. There, see? Look over the left bookshelf. There’s no can light there. I don’t have to live with that for months to know that it will drive me crazy not being symmetrical. Plus, it’s a little dark in that corner at night. I can’t believe that we didn’t realize there wasn’t a light there before we finished construction!

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And since we’re going to have a can light added by the bookshelf, I want to have a second can light added in our eat-in kitchen area. This one was our choice. We talked with the electrician about having a light there, and with the fixture over the table and the one over the beverage counter, we decided we didn’t need one on the opposite side of the room. We were wrong. Fortunately, these, too, are relatively inexpensive changes to make.

How about you guys? Have you made changes after you built or remodeled a home?

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New Year, New Plans

I usually write a post recapping the year that just passed, and talk about our plans for the upcoming year. Usually it doesn’t take me almost three weeks to get that done, but I’ll claim special circumstances this time.

2014 seems like it came and went in the blink of an eye. I spent the first quarter handling all the paperwork that came with wrapping up my dad’s affairs after he passed. We sold our house a year ago and had to deal with repairs and closing the sale. We said goodbye to our beloved Wally cat. We built a home from the ground up in a little over six months. We moved on from the church I’d attended for almost 30 years to a new church home that we love. We moved for the second time in two years. We spent a wonderful 10 days in Maui. I attended a few fiber festivals and taught. I purchased a circular sock machine that I still am not super comfortable in using. I didn’t knit or spin nearly as much as I’d wanted to.

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2014 was my first full year of not having any parents. I’m not sure that makes me any more of an adult than I already am, but it seems like it may have caused a shifting in priorities. The past decade or so I feel like I’ve defined myself by the role I played in helping to care for my parents in their declining years. Now that role is no longer mine, so it’s time for a change, and I have the opportunity to focus on my own life.

So look out, 2015. Here’s what’s in store for us. This is the year to finally lose the weight and get healthy. I’m fortunate that my blood work is close to normal in most areas (cholesterol is a little high), but with my family history the deck is stacked against me unless I take action. That means I’m watching what I eat and getting acquainted with my elliptical again. For now, I’ve joined Weight Watchers to see how that works for me.

Now that we’re country folk, Robert and I are taking one more step toward becoming self-sufficient. We’re plotting and planning out the gardens, and at some point we’ll have chickens. I’m looking forward to those farm-fresh eggs and home-grown tomatoes.

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I want to continue learning. To that end, I have a goal to read more. First, I’m utilizing YouVersion’s daily Bible plan to read the Bible through in a year, this time chronologically. Next, I’m accessing the DuoLingo app daily working on learning Spanish again. I’ve long forgotten what I learned in my two years in junior high school. After that I plan to revisit German, Italian, and finally French. Last, I’m planning on spending more time with my Kindle. I became a bit of a literary snob because a lot of recent publications are, well, just plain bad. They need editors who actually understand grammar, and the authors need imaginations. However, this past year I found BookBub, which sends me a daily email of free or extremely low priced eBooks (it works for Kindle, Nook, and Google). I gave a few of the free books a shot, and to my surprise, found a series that I really enjoyed – so much so that I purchased the remaining books that weren’t free. I’ve also downloaded some non-fiction that I might not otherwise have been familiar with or considered reading, like several biographies of historical figures. But don’t get me wrong – I still have a folder on my Kindle entitled “Bad Books.” I don’t want to experience those a second time.

There are, of course, relationship goals as well. I’m fortunate to have found my soul mate – well, rather he found me and I got beat over the head by everyone in my life telling me he was the one for me (and they were absolutely right) – and we plan to spend more time together working in the gardens, learning to cook, and continue to travel. My sister and I have finally found that it’s more important than anything to spend time with each other (mom would be so proud). And I’m blessed to have wonderful friends that I get to spend time with on a weekly basis, not to mention live next door to two of them (hi, Steve and Ginger!). My gorgeous niece has found her soul mate, and I’m looking forward to a wedding this summer.

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Lastly, I still need to make time for being a fiber artist. My knit list for 2015 is only one page – a far cry from previous years. I’ve got some amazing fiber to spin, and then knit from it as well. I want to improve my sewing skills and maybe finally finish that t-shirt quilt I started years ago. And with the start of our yarn dyeing business, Show Me Yarn, I want to play with color. I am completely floored that in a mere 10 years I’ve gone from not knowing anything about the fiber arts or textiles, to becoming a teacher, and someone who can quite literally create clothing starting from a sheep. I can process fiber, spin it, dye it, and knit it. How cool is that? And then, of course, there’s that sock machine. I’ll be taking some classes on it this spring.

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With building the house, I tried to blog more last year to document everything that was going on. When I started the blog years ago, I intended for it primarily to be a knitting and travelogue of sorts. But regardless of any changes, the name still fits. Eastburn Adventures is just that – my adventures in life. So I hope you’ll look forward to my chatting about a variety of topics this year, and if you’ve got any requests, let me know in the comments.

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Filed under Diversions, Dream Home, Family, Home, Home Life, Knitting, Life, Travel