Sunday, October 8, 2017

5 Ways I Welcome Fall

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Well, for me at least. I adore Autumn. I love the sun setting earlier, the cool nights, the changing of the leaves, and most of all, as an Okie, I am grateful all the summer bugs die off or disappear. Here in Oklahoma we still have 80+ degree days, but the nights are cooler and temperature swings are common. For example, this upcoming week we are forecast to have a high of 88 degrees and a low of 47 degrees. It as if Mother Nature cannot make up her mind. But I still embrace the idea that soon I will not be hitting the wall of steamy humidity Summer offers up and can go back to wearing sweaters. Here are five ways I welcome fall.

1. I haul all my sweaters and jackets out of storage and get them cleaned. I locate all my gloves, scarfs, hats, earmuffs, etc. Now is the time I make any repairs or replacements. I also get my winter boots out. I put out my boot tray on the porch (if you don't have one of these yet, you gotta get one). I like to think I am sending a message to the universe that I am ready to be done with the heat.

2.  I hit the book store and find a couple of good books. This "me" time is something I always come back to in the Autumn. There is something about being inside a warm and snug home while the cold, and sometimes disagreeable. weather is outside. I pick one or two books for self improvement and one or two just for entertainment. When I read in the fall, I light some scented candles and make myself a nice cup of coffee or cocoa. I really enjoy spending time escaping into a book.

3. I make lists of unfinished projects which can be accomplished indoors when the weather outside turns bitter and cold. Autumn means more rainy days around here as well, so outdoor activities are more limited. Now is the time for me to nest and prepare for the long winter nights. This is the time of year I get painting and decorating jobs finished. It is also the time of year when I deep clean. Since I am going to be spending substantially more time indoors, I try to make the space as comfortable as I can. I consider it a form of nesting.

4. I cook crock pot meals more often. One of my standby recipes is my 3 Packet Roast. I love coming home to the delicious smells of a hot meal I didn't have slave over. I don't know about you, but I don't always enjoy spending time making a meal after a long day at work. An added bonus to utilizing a slow cooker is I always have left overs for the next night or take with me for a hot lunch. Another great (and oh so easy) hot meal if I don't use the slow cooker is whipping up a grilled cheese with tomato soup. Cut the sandwich into four pieces so you can dunk the slices in the soup. Simple, quick, and delicious!

5. I prepare for bad weather. This is a process, but I normally start by making sure I have ice scrapers, ice melt, I locate my snow shovel (by now buried somewhere in the barn), and buy a few bags of cat litter to keep in my vehicle. I also make sure I have a blanket (or two) to keep in the car as well. I buy Hot Hands in bulk keeping some in the house, some in my purse, and some in the car. I keep a change of clothes, two extra pairs of socks, and some basic toiletries in case I cannot get home due to poor weather. I put these items in a storage container to keep them clean and ready to go. To prepare for cold weather at home, I begin buying extra cans of soup and non perishables in case the power goes out at my house during the winter. I buy some Kerosene for my space heaters and make sure the heaters are functioning properly. I try to replace wicks now, instead of when it is really cold and I am without power. You can read more about my winter preparedness on my post from last year here.

In case you haven't figured it out, I adore this time of year and the anticipation it brings. I moved to Oklahoma because I wanted to see weather. This year it is predicted we will have a cold and wet winter. When it is 90 humid degrees outside it is hard to imagine the snow will come, but the cooling of the days and the chilly nights show signs of promise. Bring on Autumn!!!

What is your favorite time of the year? Are you as excited as I am by Autumn?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Loss of a Tiny House on Water

Photo Property of 
Hurricane Irma was frightening for many of in the US because we all had someone we knew and loved who was impacted by her path. Fortunately, my granddaughter, who resides in Florida, was able to get out of the way of the destructive storm she calls a "Horrorcane." I am grateful she was minimally impacted. However, a fellow tiny house dweller and her family were not so lucky.

Scott and Brittany Meyers along with their twin girls Haven and Mira, and big sister Isla, all lived the life of cruisers on their boat the Asante and had built up a thriving business, friendships, and a life they loved. Fortunately they were stateside visiting family at the time the storm hit, however it is sad to learn the fate of their vessels. Brittany blogged on September 6th how their boat, and home, sank in the marina.
The couple along with their children lived their wonderful life aboard their vessel in the British Virgin Islands. Their cruiser business was located in Tortola and catered to tourists.

Photo Property of
Brittany writes in her post, found here on her blog Windtraveler, of the loss of both homes and lives on the British Virgin Islands. Brittany has been told 90% of the island has been destroyed. Brittany blogged, "She (Irma) raked our island clean of all foliage. It looks like a nuclear bomb was dropped and friends on the ground are describing the scene as "post-apocalyptic." The life they worked so hard to build has been lost to the sea. Their other vessels were tossed into a pile of boats, now beached, which had been moored to ride out the storm. Their loss is 100% property and at this point they are grateful to have their lives. 

Currently Brittany reports they are trying to decide where to go from here. Thankfully they had insurance to cover their losses, but that doesn't ease the emotional pain of losing everything you have worked long and hard for. 

Scott has flown to Puerto Rico where recovery efforts are underway to help those who were not so fortunate. A fund has been set up to help with those efforts. If you would like to consider helping please go to the BVI Relief Fund and consider a donation. 

Please keep Scott, Brittany, and their children in your thoughts. As my mother would say, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Traveling on Amtrak

I found a fantastic price on an airline ticket when I decided to go visit my folks. The only hitch in the giddy up was the departing airport was Dallas-Ft. Worth over 200 miles to my south. It can be expensive to fly out of Oklahoma City, but at less than $100 round trip, departing in Dallas Ft. Worth is well worth it! I could have driven the four hours to Dallas, fought the traffic, and paid to park my car for 8 days, but I decided to let someone else do the driving. I took the train to Dallas instead. If you live in big cities, traveling by subway or train is a convenient way to get from here to there, but in the more rural areas of the country it has become somewhat of a novelty.
The Amtrak  Heartland Flyer leaves for Dallas out of Oklahoma City and several other stops along the way. I chose to leave my car at a friend's house and she dropped me at the little depot in Norman.

The depot was quaint and historic. Built in 1909 by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, today it welcomes the Heartland Flyer outbound in the morning and inbound in the evening. There is only one platform at this small depot, but it is clean and comfortable while you await your train. I definitely felt a nod back to a different period in time when folks only traveled by train on rare or special occasions to visit loved ones who live far off. However, I used my cell phone to produce my ticket, something unthinkable when train travel was common.

The Heartland Flyer is a two story train and I had a seat on the second level. Climbing the narrow staircase with luggage was a no go for me, but the Conductor helped me out. I soon situated myself in a very comfortable seat next to an enormous window. Soon the train pulled gently out of the depot and I was on my way.

As we made out way south toward Dallas we wound through the Arbuckle Mountains and scenery I would never have been able to enjoy from the interstate. We made stops at several small depots like Norman's. We picked up and let off passengers at each stop, only stopping briefly.

I enjoyed the comfort of the train. The seat has an adjustable leg support and there was a foot rest, essentially turning your seat into a recliner. I leaned my seat back slightly and just watched out the window. I rarely am that relaxed. There was even an electric plug to charge my electronics and a drop down tray/desk to set my laptop up on.

Each of the stations I was in were clean and had security present. Clean restrooms and vending machines were in each station. Ft. Worth even had a Subway restaurant inside.

Traveling by train is relaxing and enjoyable, but there are some things you can do to help make your ride more pleasant:

  1. Bring snacks and bottled water - food on the train is limited and expensive. Bring a variety of foods with you. 
  2. Bring some disinfecting wipes to wipe the train tray and armrests down - I don't know how often the train trays are wiped down, but I do this on airplanes as well. 
  3. Bring your electronics charger - some of the trains advertise they have on board wifi, but they don't. You electronics will need to be charged as they try to maintain their cellular connections. 
  4. Bring a light sweater, sweatshirt, or light blanket - while I liked the cool air, several others around me pulled out blankets and sweaters. 

One more thing to keep in mind -  Amtrak trains share the tracks with cargo trains. It is not unusual to be running behind. My connection out of Dallas to Ft. Worth on the way home was delayed for more than an hour. Don't schedule connections via air too close or you may end up missing your flight.

I plan to take the train across the US at some point. How about you? Do you ever ride the train?

Tiny House Homestead Podcast #36

Podcast Title: Trials and Triumphs on the Farm

Podcast Episode 36 Show Notes

This episode covers….

Lots of happenings here on the farm lately. Learn about Cytauxzoonosis and the devastating affect it can have on your favorite feline. I battle it out with raccoons, and the latest critter that has come to live on the farm. Welcome to Tiny House Homestead.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK

Three good friends and I went to Kansas this past weekend to pick up a cedar chest from Wichita (more on that in another post to come.) We decided on the way back to visit The Pioneer Woman Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK. Pawhuska, is the county seat of Osage County. Pawhuska was an oil town and ranch land. Like most small towns in Oklahoma, Pawhuska has a population that has slowly shrunk. In its heyday the town boasted a population greater than 6,000, but today just over 3,500 reside there. Ree Drummond, aka Pioneer Woman, is one of these folks.

Ree Drummond (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Originally from Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Ree married the owner of the Drummond Ranch. Ree has a great blog, best selling cookbooks, and a television show shot on her working ranch in Pawhuska. Ree and her husband purchased a building in downtown Pawhuska, renovated the space, and preserved much of the character of the vintage building which once housed the original mercantile. Now the building sports a store, restaurant, bakery, and office space. Ree has a way with the recipes and her food is delicious. It is reported over 5,000 people a day visit Pawhuska now to see the Mercantile and as many as 12,000 passed through during the holiday season when they first opened.

The items found inside the mercantile are bright, cheery, and have a homey vintage quality. I was able to picture many of the items being used here on my homestead, but my budget didn't allow for many of the things that caught my eye. Prices here cater to the tourist crowd for sure, so save your pennies if you wish to shop. I was drawn to a set of salt and pepper shakers that depict Marie Antoinette. Her head is a salt shaker and her body the pepper. The head connects to the body via a magnet. Highly entertaining for the historian in me. However, the set was $18 and since I live in a tiny house I just enjoyed looking at them, but didn't bring a set home.
Marie Antoinette Salt and Pepper Shakers
Another item I adored was a large pillow that is hand embroidered. The pillow depicts places and things in Oklahoma. I loved the look and understand them to be hand embroidered, however the $200 price tag made my breath catch. A girl can dream, but the price doesn't fit the budget so that bad boy cannot come live on the homestead.

Oklahoma Pillow by Catstudio

I settled on two kitchen towels that have a vintage style to tuck away in my granddaughter's hope chest. I thought they were very cute, and a just $6 each, they were budget friendly. I saved a copy of the menu which I fashioned an envolope out of to house the towels.

Vintage Style Kitchen Towels
The line to the restaurant was quite long, but the wait was well worth it. While waiting for our table, staff from the restaurant played some fun games with patrons to pass the time. One game had some plastic frogs and small cast iron frying pans. The goal was to get as many frogs into the pan as possible. It was quite windy this particular day and no frogs actually made it into the pan, but it was sure fun to watch.

Once inside we were seated at a table where two of the seats were part of a long couch along one wall. Assorted throw pillows supported our backs and frankly I could have sat there all day sipping lemonade and people-watching. Perusing the menu, I had a hard time deciding which of the delicious sounding dishes I was going to try. Prices were very reasonable. Eventually I settled on comfort food.

First I had the Caprese Salad. For those of you who haven't had a Caprese Salad, it consists of fresh basil leaves, mozzarella, and tomatoes drizzled with an amazing vinaigrette. It is a simple salad that is terrific for hot days. I cannot tell you how delicious it is, so I will just put some pictures up:

Then for a main course I had the Grilled Cheese (not just any grilled cheese, but 3 types of cheese) and a thick and rich Tomato Soup. The sandwich was cut into strips for easy eating. The soup was delectably thick, I dunked my grilled cheese into the soup! There were actually more than two pieces of the grilled cheese, but I forgot to take a picture before I began devouring it! Oh my, words again cannot describe, so here are a couple more pictures to tempt you with:

The drive home from Pawhuska was lovely as we passed through many of the small towns along Highway 99 we had never seen. It was a nice way to end a long day. If you get the chance to visit The Pioneer Woman Mercantile be sure you wear comfortable shoes and brings some extra cash. I am pretty certain you will not be disappointed.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tiny House Homestead Podcast 35

To goat or not to goat, that was the question, a shift in thinking as well as  Adventures and updates on Podcast 35. Join me on my journey! 

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies Davis, OK

If you are traveling I35 and pass by Davis, OK (exit 51), you have got to stop and get yourself an Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pie.  Located right by the exit (look for the dinosaur on the roof), fried pies are a tradition in this area of Oklahoma. Each pie is made to order with from scratch crust and fillings fried to a golden brown in peanut oil. I suggest going when you are nice and hungry because these delicious pies will fill you up and leave you bursting at the seams.

The history of the Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pies started back in 1893 when Nancy Fulton's grandmother fried pies as a way to supplement the diet of ranch hands during a particularly harsh winter. Nancy now owns the Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pie Company and maintains the homemade quality of her grandmother's pies. The traditional dough and fillings are still made from scratch on site. Standing in line you can watch as balls of freshly made dough are run through a machine to roll them out to just the right thickness. Then each circle of dough is slathered or filled with your choice of goodies. Pinched closed and fried in hot peanut oil for 4 minutes. Each pie is a delicious taste of Oklahoma history.

Don't be surprised to find a nice long line when you get there. They really keep the line moving, so the wait was not too bad. While standing on line you can choose what you want in your pie. You can have a breakfast pie filled with sausage, cheese, and egg or a portable pot pie style pie of chicken and vegetables. There are many more options to choose from.

I chose to have blackberry and cherry filling and I was not let down. The pie crust was delicious and the filling was piping hot. My friends chose to have a mini pizza style pie with pepperoni with cheese followed with their sweet treat of a peach filled pie. We were busting at the seams when we were finished.

The Arbuckle Moutain Fried Pie location in Davis offers gasoline, ice, soda, and ice cream too. The restrooms were also most welcome for our group since we had been on the road for a couple of hours by that point.  If you are in a hurry or really hungry you can even call ahead to 580-369-7830 and order your pie so it will be ready when they get there.

So remember, if you are close to Davis, Oklahoma, you are close enough to enjoy an Arbuckle Mountain Fried Pie treat!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Magic of Magnetic Hill, Springer, OK

A couple of cohorts in crime and I took a "girl trip" to southern Oklahoma this weekend. Driving along, Kelly said, "Hey, we should check out Magnetic Hill!" Not being from Oklahoma, I had never heard of Magnetic Hill. Kelly went on to explain that you drive to the bottom of the hill, put your car in neutral or turn off the engine, and some magical magnetic force will pull the car back up the hill. Heck yes, this is just the kind of adventure I am game to try out.

Magnetic Hill is actually Pioneer (Pitt) Road, near Springer, OK. Located just off Interstate 35 at exit 42 (Hwy 53). Head west on highway 53 and turn right (head north) on Pitt Road. South of the highway Pitt Road is labeled Pioneer Road. Drive north until just past the cattle gate on your right. You will be at the bottom of the hill. Check for traffic around you, put the car in neutral or kill the engine, and the car should begin being pulled back up the hill. Kristina clocked the car going in reverse on its own at greater than 5 miles per hour.

Of course we had to do it three times, just for entertainment. Then we turned the car around and tried it in the other direction, just for giggles. Sure enough, it worked that way too. I noticed the heard of cattle eating in the fields on either side of this stretch of road looked at us like they were quite used to these types of antics, which was also very entertaining.

Evidently there is all kinds of conjecture about what makes Magnetic Hill "magnetic" from aliens, to ghosts, to curses, to an optical illusion (being the well grounded sort, I vote optical illusion), however it was sure an odd feeling. Anyway, if you make it to southern Oklahoma and are looking for something diverting, check out Magnetic Hill. We sure had a fun time.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Cookie Jar House Vacation

I recently planned a vacation to go see my granddaughter for her 6th birthday, however she got to go to New York to visit her maternal grandfather instead, so I regrouped and chose to go to Philadelphia, my original home town. Being of a limited budget, I dialed up a relative and asked if I could couch surf. My cousin and his wife live in the Cookie Jar house , a unique house located in Glendora, New Jersey. Now if you are not from the east coast, you may not know that parts of south Jersey are like suburbs for Philadelphian's. The Cookie Jar house is a unique landmark and it is not uncommon to see folks driving by to snap a picture or two.

The house is deceiving from the outside, but is actually quite roomy. There are three levels and a spiral staircase runs up the inside. It was really cute. Out of respect for my cousins I did not take pictures of the inside, but I can tell you it is really cute inside too. However it would hardly would qualify as a "tiny house." I invited two friends, Sharon and Destiny, to go along on this adventure too. Neither friend had been to Philadelphia or New Jersey, so we really had a great time.

We drove from Oklahoma the first day and stopped in Tennessee for the night. We planned to spend the night at Destiny's sister's house on her couch. Destiny hadn't seen her sister in a long time, so they were super excited to catch up. We stopped in Memphis to visit Graceland. It was closed by the time we arrived, but in true fan style we stood outside the gate and took some pictures. I stared in wonder at the private airplane that is now parked across the street. How the heck did they move that monstrosity into place in the middle of congested Memphis? While we were in Memphis we also took a tour of the giant pyramid that is actually a Bass Pro Shop. It was really cool inside with live fish in ponds and a restaurant on the top floor with an observation deck. We didn't have the time to go eat as there was quite a line, so we loaded back in the car and continued on our adventure.

We arrived at the Cookie Jar house around 3 am on Monday, February 20th. We immediately went to sleep and slept in until after 11 am! After finally getting up and about, our first day in Philadelphia we drove into the city and walked around. It was President's Day and a bunch of whiny ass bitches Trump protesters had the center city on lock down due to police presence. Police were everywhere. That meant we couldn't drive in to park close to City Hall, so we chose to park up by Elfreth's Alley and walk down to Market Street.

Side note, in case you did not know. Elfreth's Alley is the oldest continually owned block of houses in the United States. They were tiny row homes and every once in a while one or two will come up for sale. I used to dream of owning one someday. I just don't know if I could handle all the tourists trying to peak in my windows every day.

On Market Street we made a b-line for Campo's. Oh my goodness, Campo's makes the best hoagies!! A real Philadelphia Hoagie. And, just let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS! Located at 2nd and Market, you should definitely try them. Be sure to get cherry peppers on your hoagie too.

In addition to the hoagies, we ate delicious soft Philly Pretzels with dark, spicy mustard. There is no place in the world that makes a pretzel as good as Philadelphia. After some more site seeing the sun was setting so we headed back to the Cookie Jar.

Day two of our adventure,Tuesday the 21st, we discovered upon waking all the walking and the travel from the days prior had us quite bushed, so we hung around in New Jersey and hit a couple of Goodwill stores with my cousins. It is always fun to go to thrift stores in other states because the donated goods are often quite different. For example, I scored a whole set of Lenox spice jars ($20!!) and a diffuser shade needed for the vintage tole lamps I mentioned in a prior post. We also drove around and down to Riverton, NJ. There we saw the Riverton Yacht Club (first yacht club in the US ) and the century old mansions that line the Riverton River.

Day three, the 22nd, we drove out to Gettysburg National Military Park. This was another full day of walking, but you could not beat the weather. It was a beautiful clear day with a gentle breeze and warm temperatures in the 60's. We walked the battlefield and read the displays. It was sobering to read how many fell during this battle and understandable why President Lincoln felt it so important to visit. Destiny and my cousin chose to go to the top of one of the memorials which was accessible by a tall staircase. That's her at the top with her arms out. Yes, she is kinda nuts. That was way too high up for my comfort and my knee told me climbing those stairs was not going to happen.

When we got back to town from Gettysburg we went to Joe's Crab Shack to eat dinner. I had never been to one before. The food was good, but the drinks were divine. It was a fun evening, but my feet and knees hurt from all that walking and I was ready to go back to the Cookie Jar to hit the sack.

Thursday, the 23rd, we made our way back into the city via the train instead of driving. Sharon and Destiny had both taken public transportation in Germany, however they were interested to see what a Philly subway ride was like. I think both really enjoyed the ride. I was shocked at how little parking was available at the train station. We had to go all the way to the Lindenwald station to find parking. I guess most who work in the city are smart enough not to try to find parking or it is just too cost prohibitive. I know I wouldn't want that hassle.

Of course any time you are in Philadelphia you must visit the Liberty Bell. We had a great time taking pictures with this symbol of freedom. It is a shame you cannot touch it like you could when I was a kid, but you can still get up close and that is nice. We went and saw the first post office started by none other than Benjamin Franklin. We mailed postcards and letters home there because they still hand cancel at that Post Office. It is odd to consider it has been continuously operating since before our country became independent. You will notice no flag flies outside that office. It is the only Post Office in our country without a US flag flying in front.

We ate lunch across the street at the Common Wealth Restaurant. It was so good. I had a Smoked Turkey and Brie sandwich as well as Seared Scallops. I also had a really good local brew, but I cannot remember the name of it. All I can say is it was delicious.

After walking around seeing the sites, we headed to the Reading Terminal to get Canoli and a Tiramisu for desert after dinner on Friday. My cousin had been planning to cook a dinner of Braciole and Pasta for us and of course we had to get the desert from my family bakery. We made our way back to the train and headed home. We were bushed, so along the way we picked up Cheese Steaks for dinner. Are you following the food theme? Ooh ya. This is what vacations are made of, lol.

Day 5, Friday the 24th, we were sad to find out Sharon's brother-in-law had passed away and we needed to wrap up our trip sooner than planned. We spent our final day running errands, doing wash, and preparing to go home. We made final stops at places Sharon and Destiny may never have a chance to see again. We ate at a diner so Sharon and Destiny could try Scrapple. There is nothing as good as breakfast at the Penn Queen Diner on Route 130. We purchased foods we planned to bring home and foods we promised to bring back in order to get them in the freezer overnight. I bought Scrapple and Sharon and Destiny bought wonderful homemade chocolates from Bayards Chocolate House. By the time we got back to the Cookie Jar, Ed and Nancy had cooked us dinner of Baked Rigatoni and Braciole and we gorged ourselves. It was sad to have to leave, but by 9pm we were packed, showered, and in bed to get enough rest to leave early in the morning.

We were up by 5am and putting all our things in the car. At 7 am we headed across the Walt Whitman Bridge one last time and drove through the quiet Saturday streets of south Philly. We had one last stop to make before heading back, the Termini Bakery original location. Fresh Canoli and a cup of coffee were purchased and we were back on the road. We took a different route home so we could avoid tolls. We discovered tolls on the way to our trip had cost nearly $30. This time we knew we could skirt the toll booths and get to see West Virginia as well.

We passed through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and on into West Virginia. We decided to detour, get out and stretch our legs at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Harper's Ferry is a neat little town for a couple of reasons. First off, you can see Three states from there: Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. Secondly, John Brown, a famous abolitionist, led a raid there. Thirdly, it is the home of the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail. I had dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail for many years prior to having broken my back in a car accident. It doesn't stop me from being green with envy for those that have completed the journey. We stopped in to see if Destiny could find some of her college pals who had made the journey and been photographed in the many volumes of hikers the Conservancy document each year. We explored Harper's Ferry a little bit, refueled, and were back on the road within an hour. I plan to go back at some point and really enjoy learning the history of the area more in depth.

Driving through some rain storms as we crossed Virginia, we made our way back to Tennessee and stayed the night once again with Destiny's sister. Reheating left overs of Braciole and Rigatoni, we ate and hit the sack. By 7 am the next morning we were back on the road. Tennessee, Arkansas, and finally Oklahoma zipped by quickly. We arrived back in Oklahoma before the sun set.

I was bummed for Sharon for the loss of her brother-in-law, and bummed our trip had to end, but I did manage to make some great memories and a couple of new charms for my bracelet.

Hmm, where to next?