Currently :: July 26th

Thinking: No more telling ourselves that we will go visit my family next vacation. We will actually do it next year.

Listening: Cicadas. I guess they are in one of their cycles, but they are everywhere in the evenings and LOUD!!!

Reading:  I am desperately trying to catch up on my reading. According to GoodReads, I am four books behind schedule on my reading challenge. Ack. I started and finished Fablehaven by Brandon Mull this week. It was a decent fantasy book, but the brother, Seth, is a punk. Last week I won a giveaway of a signed copy of the book What Lies in the Darkness by K. L. Cottrell. I've only just begun reading it.

Watching:  I'm doing a lot of sitting in my car watching my son at soccer practice. I tried to get out and sit on the bleachers. There are dive bombing red wasps and little gnats that BITE! I looked like some crazy person flailing my arms around every few minutes. Now I totally envy cows with swishy tails.

Eating: Dang it... I forgot to write a post about that chicken!

Weather: Pretty hot, humid. This hot then rainy then hot weather has really taken a toll on our tomatoes. They are splitting and rotting. We are able to salvage some as long as we pick them as soon as they begin to turn orange and then let them ripen on a window sill. I made a couple of pints of black bean salsa on Friday afternoon. I haven't tried it yet though.

Doing: Thursday afternoon we found out that one of my nieces committed suicide. I have never been close to any of my five half brothers. They all lived in Florida while I grew up here in Kentucky. I only met my niece, Kiana, once. We hadn't been down there since 2006. It doesn't seem like it has been nine years. My dad, who lived down there for many years before moving back to KY, is heartbroken. He left early Friday to drive straight down there. I've been doing a lot of crying then feeling guilty for being so sad and crying. I barely knew her. I'm crying because I never had the chance. I'm crying because I'm a mother. I'm crying because it still hurts. It is hard to find words.

Flashback Friday

Originally posted | July 21st, 2014 | A Vacation Story: The Good
I am still in love with this house. I dream of one day building a home with a dog trot.

*Fair warning... long post with lots of awesomesauce photos!*

For me, the best part of this vacation was visiting the 1850's Homeplace located in the southern, Tennessee part, of Land Between the Lakes.  If there is anything you should know about me, it is this...  I was born in the wrong era.  I love to see and hear about all the history.  Though I am partial to phones and internet as well as electric and indoor plumbing, I would like nothing more than to buy some wooded acres, build a tiny house on it, throw up some solar panels, and call it home.  After visiting the Homeplace, I have new ideas banging around inside my head on what I want that tiny home to look like.  On to the photo tour!

First off, I forgot to take a photo of the actual entrance which is this sort of earthen mound.  You go inside the doors to the gift shop and museum type area that held artifacts and information.  Walk out the back doors and follow a little wooded path that opens upon this wonderful old farm!

This is the main house called a double pen.  It has this amazing breezeway, also called a dog trot.  While not exactly a "tiny" home, it's smaller than most modern homes.  The dog trot area is what immediately set my brain to thinking.  It was stupid hot and humid that day, but this home was cool and breezy.  All the windows were open.  The curtains were all gently blowing in the breeze.  This house was cooler than my own house is with the air conditioning on.  Why do we not build houses like this anymore?!?!

All of the buildings were picked up and moved to this location from the LBL area, with the exception of the main home which came from a nearby location in Tennessee.  I was just amazed that these homes/buildings were not reproduction, not made to look old, but actual original buildings.

This is the back porch area.  The open space in the wall to the right is the dog trot area that also includes the stairs leading to the upstairs open landing between two bedrooms.  To my right is the parlor and to my left is the kitchen.

Holy awesome kitchen Batman!  The crocks!  The iron skillets and pots!  THE STOVE!!  

 Looking out the front part of the open upstairs landing is a view of some of the crops from the era.  Tobacco and corn were growing in this field.

From the back view, you can see the kitchen and the smokehouse building.  As well as getting an upclose view of the shake roof.

Resident mouse catcher.  Do you see the width of these wooden floor boards?!

This was the large fenced-in garden.  What a great way to keep out unwanted critters.  Never occurred to me to fence the whole garden.  Nearby was the corn crib and garden tool shed.

 I fell in love with this sweet little single pen home.  It's much too small for our family of five, but was so cozy and efficient.

Plus it had this flower and herb garden right out back.  Who wouldn't love to just step out the back door for fresh flowers or to grab some parsley?

There were lots of animals (horses, oxen, chickens, ducks, sheep, pigs), a small blacksmith building, a huge tool barn, and lots of little outbuildings to house tools and food for the specific animals they were near. Absolutely worth a visit if you are near the area.

Next up on the tour of Good Things... the Woodlands Nature Station.  The Nature Station houses native animals that are unable to be released back into the wild.  I wanted to go to the Nature Station so I could see the red wolves.  There are fewer than 300 of them left in THE WORLD.  Recently (May) the wolves here had a cub!  Great news!  Bad news... we waited and waited and waited outside their pen, but no sighting of a single red wolf was had.  No sightings of their coyotes either.  Apparently they were all hiding out due to the rain that was moving in later.

We did see turkeys.  Much prettier on the table for Thanksgiving.  Very mean in person.  Several different types of owls, which were scary and fascinating.  Do you know how tiny a screech owl is?  A bobcat who gave no shits whatsoever that we were there, like any other cat.  A groundhog, a few deer, an opossum, a bald eagle, and lots of hummingbirds and other birds.

Inside the learning center, there were all types of skulls and butterflies plus pelts of various native animals.  A skunk is surprisingly soft.  They also had snakes which Rowan was fascinated with.  Next time we visit we will try to go earlier in the day when the animals may be more active.

Lastly, before going we decided that while we were there we would pick a place to eat out one night.  I looked over the restaurants in the area.  Considered visiting Patti's 1880's Settlement, but I decided I didn't want to visit the place that every one else visits when they go.  I wanted off the beaten path.  I found it at Belew's Dairy Bar.

It was the best decision I had on the whole trip.  Do you see these prices?!  I had no idea it was going to be such a great value.  Cheeseburger? $2.80.  Grilled cheese?  $1.85.  Most expensive item on the menu was the shrimp basket and it was only $6.20.  Oh and these prices included tax.  AND!  Do you see "curb service"?  That's exactly what we got.  They come right up to your car and you don't have to be parked right next to the building either.  When your food is ready, it gets put on a nice stainless steel tray that hooks right on your window.  We ended up talking to each of the three carhops.  They were the nicest, most friendly ladies.  Each had a smile and were very helpful.  The burger was a little flat, but tasted great and the milkshakes were amazing!  I can see why they have been in business since 1951!

I have been thinking about that Homeplace and how sweet the ladies at Belew's were and it's a good thing too because if I focused on the bad stuff, I'd have a stroke.  

Pretty Dresses

My brother, Jim, came to pick up our mom this weekend. She is going down to stay with him in Florida for a few weeks. A much needed vacation for her. Plus she'll get to spend time with that side of the family as well. It has been a few years since we'd seen each other. It was a quick trip, he was really only here on Saturday, but he and our mom came over to the house for most of the day.

Mom had a whole chicken that she didn't want to go bad while she was gone so I stuck that in the slow cooker. I used a recipe I will definitely be sharing on here soon, but of course I forgot to photograph the finished chicken. We were all so hungry that we dug right in and ate it all. Nothing but bones left. Poor chicken. Bonus, we got to eat tomatoes and corn straight from our garden.

You know what else I forgot to photograph? Me and my brother. They'll be back in a few weeks. Hopefully with a few more days to hang out and go exploring.

The older kids have started band camp this week. Soccer conditioning has also begun. I'm officially a soccer mom again. (Kaia used to play.) With Mom gone and lounging on a beach somewhere, I haven't a sitter for Rowan so I'm not able to volunteer as I'd like to do for camp. So I've donated bags of tomatoes instead.

Someone hasn't been taking her older siblings being gone very well. Last night it rained quite a bit and filled up her little pool. Today she just would not stay out of it. I kept telling her she would get her pretty dress all dirty.

I turned to see her like this. She said, "Look Mama! I can sit in my chair and play in the water without getting my pretty dress dirty!" I'm not sure if she is a genius or an expert smartass.
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