Ten Years Already!

Ten years ago this week I published my very first blog post here on Blue Jeans and Cotton Tees.

Ten years was a long time ago.

George W. Bush was president.

The first iPhone was introduced.

And the Boston Red Sox won the World Series.

On the home front, we were on the farm, living in the old house and home schooling all five kids, ranging in age from 15 to 6.

 

 

So much has changed since then.

Today – I home school just one.

We’ve graduated four and added one son-in-law.

We moved to the new house.

Added cows.

And Jan started working in town.

Ten years. Wow.

I started blogging on a massive desk top with a tower that took up half the desk.

Now I click away on my little laptop.

My first photos were taken on a chunky digital camera that could do about ten pictures before the battery died, edited in ancient software and took 10 minutes to upload on our dial-up.

Today I take pictures on my iPhone and edit and upload within minutes.

At the time it was common for bloggers to give their young kids a blog name to protect them in the massive, unpredictable blogosphere.

Matt already had a successful blog and online presence – I used his real name.

Laura was the only one of our children to never have a nickname stick. She chose Dagmar as her blog name from her favorite movie at the time I Remember Mama.

Peter’s blog name was easy – Pedro. But he also earned the nickname “Crash” following an incident involving the 4 wheeler and a multiflora rose bush.

Anna was given her blog name, Angel Girl, by her daddy years ago. Every Sunday morning I would pull her hair back and fasten it with her very favorite “pretty pretty” (a hair piece with a lacy flower and ribbons). It looked like a little halo on her head and daddy called her his little “angel girl”.

Nathan was always the Little Buddy. But at almost 17 and taller than I am, he’s ready to move on.

They all are. So from here on, their blog names are no more! You are welcome kids. You’ve earned it. Thank you for letting me tell your stories here. You’ve given me some awesome blog fodder through the years and I’m sure there’s more to come!

Ten years.

And you, my readers, have been there.

You’ve watched my children grown up.

You’ve rejoiced with me.

You’ve wept with me.

And you’ve laughed with me.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read the ramblings of this Country Gal who loves playing with words and  always dreamed of having something published.

Your comments and words of encouragement have meant so much to me! Thank you!

And now – it’s time to celebrate!

In honor of ten years – I plan to dig a favorite blog post out of the archives occasionally and share it again. Some of my favorites, the most searched, the funniest, the most embarrassing.

I’ll clearly label them “From the Archives” so you can easily tell the old from the new posts.

And don’t worry – there are some posts that need to stay well hidden in the dark recesses and may never see the light of day again!

Ten years is a lot of words.

Thanks for reading them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upping My Coffee Game

It’s a well established fact that I am just not a coffee drinker.

The smell is heavenly – but the taste has always let me down.

My kids, however, all drink coffee.

And not just any coffee – but good coffee. That’s why they make their own when they are here.

The only time I make coffee is when my parents come to visit and I pull my little vintage percolator and attempt to brew a pot. They’ve always said it was “fine”.

To be honest. I never even think about coffee except to make sure I have some in the freezer and half & half in the fridge when the kids are home.

So when Peter brought a bunch of friends down to help tear down the hovel, coffee was the last thing on my mind. At least until they staggered in the kitchen Saturday morning with bleary eyes and mumbling “Coffee?”

I went into full on panic mode and grabbed my little vintage peculator which looked grossly undersized and frantically tried to remember how to make coffee.

I don’t think I succeeded by the number of mugs full of coffee that were left on the table when they went outside.

The next day I texted my oldest son – the one known in our family as the connoisseur of fine brew – and asked him to teach my how to make a good cup o’ joe.

He took the challenge seriously and began lessons the very next time he was home.

I will admit he looked uncertain when I pulled out my little vintage percolator but gamely tried it.

He immediately dumped the pot.

Lesson 1 – when coffee is boiled it becomes bitter. Bitter is not good.

He then introduced me to the French Press <insert heavenly music> which is the easiest and almost dummy-proof way to make coffee.

As he carefully measured the coffee grounds and started the water boiling, he began explaining the different kinds of coffee, pros and cons of coffee beans and already ground coffee and how to tell when your coffee is old and why nobody wants to drink the three year coffee in my freezer.

Lesson 2 – Nobody likes old coffee. Old coffee is not good.

I listened intently as I watched him take the boiling water off the burner, let it sit for a minute to bring the temp down (lesson number 1!) and poured it over the ground coffee.

He then told Siri to set a timer for three minutes, and continued my education on all things coffee. Did you know there’s a roast date on every package of coffee? And the lighter the roast the more caffeine?

My head was spinning by the time Siri told him his coffee was done.

He carefully poured his perfectly made brew into a mug and sat down satisfied with the look on his face that only the most serious coffee drinkers understand.

I sat across from him holding my massive cup of green tea and realized that my brain was about to burst with information.

So I grabbed a recipe card and started making notes.

I fully realize that I may be teased about this for the rest of my life – but I will confess hear and now that I actually have a recipe for coffee.

And I used it when my parents visited.

And they immediately noticed that my coffee had improved. Greatly.

This momma has upped her coffee game!

Next lesson – how to get Siri to set the timer for 3 minutes!

Okay – don’t hold your breath on that one!

 

Going, Going, Gone

The old house has finally come down.

How well I remember the first time I laid eyes on that old farmhouse!

We had seen the ad for the farmstead in the Sunday paper and had driven two hours with three kiddos under of the age of five to check it out.

We went around the curb, down a hill, up the other side and turned into the driveway.

No. Please no.

It was ugly, tired, saggy and wind blown after a century of sitting on the hill. A horrible 1960’s renovation had removed most of it’s former glory and the farm crisis in the 80’s left it vacant for awhile. Thankfully, it had indoor plumbing – although some of it was a garden hose. The only heat was a wood stove and the floor had a definite slant.

But my husband reminded me that while houses change – the land doesn’t.

And the land was beautiful! Rolling hills, ravines, a farm pond. Beautiful views in every direction! Just what we dreamed of!

We bought it, named it the hovel and moved in.

It sheltered us for more years than I care to remember while we worked on our dream house. Cold winters with frozen pipes. Hot summers canning in the kitchen with mud daubers buzzing around my head.

It was an exciting day when the new house was finished and we could finally move in!

The old farm house has sat empty now for several years.  Every year we said it would have to come down. But year after year other projects were more necessary and there just wasn’t time.

Until this year.

We started August 4th. Piece by piece it came down. Starting with the lathe and plaster.

Windows. Doors.

Then the roof and the second story.

Burning everything we could. What didn’t burn went in a dumpster.

The kids all pitched it. Peter even brought his Bible Study group down to help.

We paused in wonder at the workmanship of one section, and shook our heads in disbelief at the haphazard construction of a later addition.

Almost every day I had a different view.

It was going, going, and then gone.

We saved whatever wood we could and the limestone rock that made the foundation will soon line my flower beds. We had already used much of the trim in our new house.

All that’s left is a dent in the ground.

And the memories.

It was a huge job that we dreaded for years. It’s a wonderful feeling to know it’s done!

 

Deep Woods and Grand Adventures!

It was just what we needed.

A few days with the kids on the North Shore in Minnesota.

Epic adventures through the deep woods.

On and off the trail.

Smelling the pine woods.

Climbing rocks.

Bonfires every night.

S’mores.

Picnics.

Waterfalls.

Swinging bridges.

Rock cliffs.

Warm days.

Cool nights.

 

 

Lake Superior in all it’s beauty and power.

And quiet.

Hammocks.

Loons.

A cabin in the woods.

Games.

Snacks.

Late nights.

Photo shoots.

Silliness.

Laughter.

The whole family together.

Perfect.

 

 

Gathering of the Clan

Labor Day Weekend means one thing for my family – The Kamp-Out at Nana and Papa’s.

This gathering of the clan is a highly anticipated last hurrah of the summer.

Three generations.

Massive amounts of food.

Very little sleep.

The coffee flowed as fast as the conversations.

Laughter rang out as stories were told and memories made.

We took our hammocks to new heights.

And welcomed new friends from bonny Scotland.

Who arrived as strangers and left as family.

Dear people who laughed with us and found such joy in learning our traditions.

And fell in love with our sweet corn.

And us.

And we with them.

We played games.

Went wading in the river.

Took endless rides on the Ranger.

And just sat in the sunshine, watching the littles.

Remembering the days when it was our babies who were enjoying Papa and Nana’s house.

And cherishing the fact that another generation gets the same opportunity.

We took our annual trek to ”the Rock”.

And posed for the annual picture.

And learned that a vuvuzela will attract all the cows in the neighborhood.

It was a sweet time.

A weekend full of precious moments with people we hold dear.

A true gathering of the Clan!