Don't Miss Christmas

Today officially ushers in the Christmas Countdown!  These festive weeks are always over in a blink so I’m planning our family calendar now to make sure we get the most out of the Season.  I heard this sermon when it aired on the radio in October and it has stuck with me as I'm planning our family events. The title is: The People Who Missed Christmas. LISTEN In this message, the pastor describes all the people who were around Christ's actual birth, but missed the miracle for various reasons. What a mirror this sermon is! I am consumed so easily with trivial things like buying the best toys and wrapping them beautifully, decorating our home, baking treats, and planning parties, designing the perfect Christmas card, even getting extra gym time to work off those treats and parties so I don't take them with me into the new year that I have little time to be still and ponder the absolute miracle that is Christ's birth. 

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This year, Rock is old enough to understand Christmas for the first time so it's our perfect chance to start a family tradition and teach him how to "not miss Christmas". We have a beautiful advent calendar with little pockets that can be filled with toys or candy, but this year I am filling them with elements centered around the birth of Christ, small tokens that give opportunity to teach our children that Christmas is about Christ and giving to others our of the abundance that God has given to us. 

One other tradition that I personally love but haven't been able to do with little kids is to hear Handel's Messiah performed. This might be the year that we try it. The free performance is this Sunday December 3rd. 

Here are a few other festivities that we will try to take in this year:

·       November 17- December 22: Polar Express Train Ride http://www.nctrans.org/Events/Polar.aspx

·       December 2: This year will be the celebration of the 27th Annual Winston-Salem Jaycees Downtown Holiday Parade.  The parade will be Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 5:00 pm  and will be followed by the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership‘s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. Winston-Salem Christmas Parade https://www.wsparade.org/

·       December 3: Sunday at 3pm. Handel’s Messiah presented by the Winston Salem Mozart Club FREE http://wsmessiah.org/

·       December 8 at 4:30: Listen to live music, visit the Animal Zone, participate in holiday crafts and demonstrations, watch a festive Planetarium laser show, and meet special guests … including Santa himself! $3 per person. http://downtown.kaleideum.org/programs/festive-family-friday-kaleideum-north/

·       December 9: Salem Christmas Saturday at Old Salem. Join us for our annual celebration of Moravian traditions throughout the Historic Town of Salem! http://www.oldsalem.org/events/event/salem-christmas/

Historic Buildings will open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. The St. Philips Anniversary Lovefeast will take place at 11:00 a.m. At 5:15 p.m., we will gather in the James A. Gray, Jr. Auditorium in the Old Salem Visitor Center for carol singing and the lighting of the Christmas Pyramid.  Activities are included with the purchase of an All-In-One ticket. Friends of Old Salem enjoy free admission (learn more about becoming a Friend of Old Salem)

·       December 15-16: Live Nativity http://stjohnsfalcons.org/winston-salem-drive-thru-nativity

 

Have you been to any of these events in the past or planning to go?? Also, Please share your favorite family traditions! I'd love to hear how you celebrate the Season! 

-Soli Deo Gloria

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5 Classy Christmas Gifts to Create

Not to stress you out, but Christmas is in 8 weeks. I just got the first two Christmas catalogues from Target and Eddie Bauer this week. One family in our neighborhood has their tree up already! We love to give gifts from our farm in one way or the other. I love making things with my hands, and some of you who are the recipients of my annual gifts can attest that over the years, they have been indeed “crafty.” Some of the gifts I’ve given in the years past include: homemade mulling spices with dried orange peel and cloves, white bowls printed with sayings or verses, prints of my latest artwork. I do try to stay away from the super -crafty-craft-store-kit-pompom-kind of things, and keep it classy. I love giving thoughtful, individualized, meaningful gifts and when I say “DIY,” most of these things are semi-homemade, like Sandra Lee. Anyone else ever watch that show? So, I've searched pinterest, MarthaStewart.com, and google for fresh DIY items to create and gift this year. Don't panic, we still have plenty of time to get it done, but somehow the last few weeks of the year always fly by much quicker than the rest. I know if I don't plan now and set a date on my calendar to make these gifts, it won't get done in a classy fashion. I'll end up either throwing things together at the last minute or run to the mall and buy whatever I can find. Neither of those is a good option, so hopefully this list will help you decide on a gift to make or spark an idea for something else. Don't miss the wreath links in #5. These are beautiful and after the overwhelming response to my watercolor workshops, I'm thinking about hosting a "Wine & Wreath" workshop making these! 

So this year, here are my top five farm style DIY (semi-homemade) Christmas gifts to create:

1.       Signs.  If you’ve been following, you know we just cut down an old black maple so we have lots of extra wood laying around, which we’ve turned into slices and chunks. An afternoon of sanding and some hand lettering could produce some gorgeous signs for gifting and decorating. Check out this blog for a unique idea using stencils. http://www.makingjoyandprettythings.com/personalized-nursery-wood-slice-name-sign/

Also, these tree slice coasters are perfect! http://www.unoriginalmom.com/diy-painted-wood-slice-coasters/

2.       Mason Jar Dispenser. Nothing says farmhouse style more than a mason jar. Here is a link to a great tutorial to create your own soap or lotion dispenser out of a mason jar! I have two in my kitchen and I used old pumps out of hand soap bottles instead of buying new ones. http://montanasolarcreations.com/2014/03/diy-mason-jar-soap-lotion-dispenser.html

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3.       Block printed linens, pillows, napkins, bags, or anything else fabric. This one is near and dear to my printmaking heart. Martha Stewart has a great tutorial for printing hand carved dogwood leaves, but use your imagination to draw and carve any kind of design: https://www.marthastewart.com/269906/block-printed-table-linens

Alternately you can create block printing designs using found objects like string or buttons. Martha Stewart also has a great tutorial here: https://www.marthastewart.com/906821/block-printing

4.       Spice Rub for meat. Not for your vegetarian friend, but everyone else would love to receive a hand mixed spice rub! This link from sheknows includes 10 different recipes for rubs! http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/1083246/dry-rub-recipes

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5.       Wreaths! Thank you, Jo for keeping wreaths trendy! I know that I’m going to make at least one of these for my own house this year (I am loving the triangle!), but using some fake flowers and greenery would be a way to gift a wreath that can last. These wreaths are not too Christmas-y to come down on the 26th. In fact, they could stay up until Easter and then be redecorated for spring! https://www.papernstitchblog.com/2016/12/13/how-to-make-asymmetrical-holiday-wreaths/ This wreath is also always popular using an old book or hymnal. All it takes is cardboard, staples, hot glue, and a couple hours. https://www.rhfarmnc.com/blog/2017/4/26/every-farmhouse-needs-a-wreath 

Let me know if you make any of these, or what you plan to make this year!

Happy Holidays! 

 

 

Bonfires and Blankets

Fall on the farm is glorious. The steam of summer is gone and the crisp fall air settles in. At Rolling Hills, we love stringing lights around the trees and in our barn so we can enjoy the evenings around the bonfire, complete with blankets and good conversation. We’ve had half a dozen bonfires already this year and gone through several bags of marshmallows.

Our Barn Pavilion lit for the season! 

Our Barn Pavilion lit for the season! 

A couple weeks ago, we hosted a beautiful group of about 40 ladies under our covered barn. The barn was elegantly decorated with white table cloths and candles. The hay bales were used for seating and we used natural chunks of wood as side tables. The menu included two types of chili with all the sides, s’mores, caramel apples, and cider.  The night included a crackling fire in the fire pit with plenty of marshmallows and lightened spirits. 

Pinterest worthy! Apple slices drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips and pecans.

Pinterest worthy! Apple slices drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with mini chocolate chips and pecans.

If you are throwing a gathering, party, or any kind of get-together let us host your event! We have 3 farm tables, a lot of hay bales and beautiful stumps of wood to use as side tables. We also have 135 folding chairs all available in case of hay allergies or preferences. We have an ever growing list of decorating items as well available for use. We provide seasonal décor, and of course lots of lights during the fall and winter. We have a cozy fire pit with skewers, and we even provide marshmallows. We will do all the set up and break down with the items we provide.

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This fall our weekends are getting full! We have several exciting events going on including a couple’s bridal shower, Christmas mini photoshoots, and a birthday party!

We only have a few dates available this fall for Barn Parties but we are also booking now for 2018. If you have an upcoming event, please consider us for your venue. Check out more photos on our website here:   PICTURES  or email emilydrew@rhfarmnc.com for more details or to schedule a visit! We provide a beautiful location full of rustic charm at a very comfortable price. Book your event today!

Preview of the Christmas mini photoshoots that we will host in the Pavilion Barn at Rolling Hills 11/5 and 11/12 with  Jamie Lynn Photography

Preview of the Christmas mini photoshoots that we will host in the Pavilion Barn at Rolling Hills 11/5 and 11/12 with Jamie Lynn Photography

What to do with a felled tree?

What to do with a felled tree

This week our project around the farm is to figure out what in the world we are going to do with this felled black walnut tree. It has been dead for a while now but we were uncertain of how to go about cutting it down since it had lived next to our fence. This summer Poppy and Wayne re-fenced the horse pastures to provide access directly to the horse barn and provide a separate pasture for those cows I keep talking about! (Side note: We have decided to buy each other cows for Christmas! We want to start our own herd, so we are looking for a couple of calves to breed.) Since the fence is gone, Poppy decided it was time to let it go. TIMBER!

Poppy expertly chopped it down, cutting a wedge at just the right angle for it to land in an open space instead of any of the surrounding buildings. And we have so many ideas about what to do with this beautiful black walnut wood, but here are our top ideas!

1.       Tree slices. Are they still trendy?? Is nature ever not trendy?  I still see them on everywhere on Pinterest and I’m the kind of girl who thrives on natural textures. So, personally I have asked Poppy to cut several for me to use as decoration, and some to have available for events at Rolling Hills. (info on hosting your next event HERE) And possibly some to sell?

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2.       Chargers. Of course, Pinterest. Basically, these are tree slices but super thin so they can be used as place settings. Can you just see a beautiful Thanksgiving table set with these?! Also, I’m going to lump coasters in with this group; they are basically small chargers for your glass.

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3.       Cutting boards. Thanks to our friend Kevin who suggested this one. I love wooden cutting boards and serving platters, and cheese platters! Wood grain is just beautiful. 

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4.       Fire wood. This goes without saying but it hurts my heart a little to see beautiful black walnut wood turned to ash. But such is life, and we need to stay warm this winter.

5.       Swing! Thank you, Pinterest, again for this idea. Since we have great big trees for swinging, and two little boys, this one just might make the cut.

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6.       End tables!? I purchased a gorgeous end table last year at Target that has a natural tree slice top and simple metal legs. Poppy, let’s do this!

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All about our PAINT-A-HORSE party!

For a limited time we are offering 25% off birthday parties! Contact us today to reserve your date! 

In 2009 my husband and I were married at the farm in the middle of the hay field. We had our reception under the big tree with lights, a dancefloor, and a bluegrass band. Ever since then, we have been hosting all our family and lots of friend events at the farm. And this time it was no exception. The farm offers a unique experience for kids who don’t have horses or chickens in their backyards. We have ample area to run, dig, and climb, and paint!

If you saw our posts on IG and FB you know that we just celebrated Rock’s THIRD birthday at Rolling Hills Farm with a PAINT-A-HORSE party! The party was a hit. We have just started offering our farm as an event venue, including our PAINT-A-HORSE party! (https://www.rhfarmnc.com/kids-parties/) After our ART CAMPS this summer where we ended the week with painting our miniature horse, Beethoven, I immediately wanted to do this for Rock’s birthday. I planned and pinterest-ed for weeks picking decorations and favors.

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I chose “sprinkles” for the theme of the decorations. Most everything was white and clean, with sprinkles. I hung multi colored balloons and tissue paper “puffs”. All of the containers and tableware was white. The cupcakes too were white and covered in sprinkles.

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We had two planned activities- both painting a horse. The first activity was set up when the kids arrived. I hung a row of multi colored kid sized aprons for them to wear. At each seat was a piece of watercolor paper with a pencil drawing of a party horse, a water cup, a brush, and a pallet with three colors of paint. Everything was ready to go. The younger kids painted “abstracts” until all their paint was gone while the older kids painted and embellished their images, adding trees and people.  At the end of the party, we brought out Beethoven and gathered the kids around to actually paint him! Most of them were so surprised that they were getting to paint a real live horse! The watercolor painting was just a teaser. When painting Beethoven always use finger-paint which is kid and animal friendly and washes easily off of both! The kids each had several turns painting his sides and mane. We all painted until the paint was gone! Beethoven loves the attention too! And to keep him still, we keep a bucket full of carrots nearby.

For the take home gifts, each guest kept their horse watercolor paintings and they chose one of these jars full of either M&Ms or skittles:

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I glued the horse figurines on top, then spray painted each of them white (white and sprinkles theme…) The party was a huge success and all the kids really LOVED painting, both the watercolor and Beethoven! 

If you would like more information on hosting your own PAINT A HORSE party at Rolling Hills Farm click here: https://www.rhfarmnc.com/kids-parties/  Our staff guides all the activities and we provide all the supplies for painting, both watercolor and the horse. We do have other activities available from which to choose. Visit our website! 

For a limited time we are offering 25% off birthday parties! Contact us today to book your date. 

Follow us on IG@rollinghillsfarmnc and FB Rolling Hills Farm @rollinghillsfarmevents

Fall on the Farm

We have all spent the last week at Topsail island celebrating the last of the long days and kissing summer goodbye. Poppy's birthday was this week and we celebrated with a proper low country shrimp boil with fresh shrimp we bought right off the boat for $2/lb.  Yes, TWO dollars per pound! And, they were amazing. Nana boiled the shrimp, red potatoes, corn on the cob, and andouille sausage in a mixture of beer, water, and old bay. It was the perfect way to celebrate Poppy and enjoy the last rays of summer. 

Fall might be our favorite season around the farm. Doesn’t it just seem like farming and fall were made for each other. The sweat of summer is replaced with cozy scarves and hot mugs, campfires and chicken stews. Pumpkins, leaves, and hay bales decorate the landscape. The nights are filled with noises from nature, no city or traffic noises. The stars are bright and the air is fresh and crisp.

Personally, I cannot wait to get home, knock the sand off my shoes and decorate for my favorite season! Fall is the perfect time to be on the farm. You can’t have one without the other. Just like you can’t have summer without the beach, or winter without the mountains.

Fall is for the farm.

While we don’t have a huge pumpkin patch we do have a small vine just outside the Covered Barn where we laid a pumpkin to rest a year or so ago! Excited to see if we have any pumpkins this year. 

And now we are sharing our little piece of heaven with you. If you are looking for an event venue for ANY occasion, come check out Rolling Hills Farm! (rhfarmnc.com) Our space is the perfect backdrop for any event- big or small. We can accommodate parties of all sizes.  We have several events coming up on the farm: a birthday party, a church fellowship, a bridal shower, and a two-day photoshoot for family Christmas photos. We are busy!  

We are filling up the calendar now for the end of 2017 and 2018.

·       Children’s birthday parties "PAINT A HORSE

·       Dinner parties

·       Corporate events

·       Weddings

·       Family reunions

·       Church events

 

Our birthday party is “Paint a Horse Party” for Rock’s THIRD birthday. (More details on how to book here) This is the first year we are inviting some of his friends to come celebrate with us. And, what better way than to paint a horse- literally! Our miniature stallion, Beethoven, is the perfect size for children to paint. Rock loves painting, the farm, and horses so we are putting them all together to celebrate his special day! This “Paint a Horse” party is available anytime for kid’s parties!

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Our farm is also available for photoshoots. Fall is the perfect time for photos on the farm. Pumpkins and hay bales, horses, chickens, and barn wood, rustic, beauty, antiques… OH MY! We have it all. We can even book a photographer for you if needed or you can bring your own for a small fee!

More information on our website: rhfarmnc.com and Follow us on IG @rollinghillsfarmnc for candid shots of farm living

 

 

Plan NOW for a Cool Weather Garden

Over the last couple weeks, the farm has been full of activity. Poppy and his friend Wayne have redesigned the horse pastures so we have direct access to the large horse barn. The horses will be grazing in a newly fenced back pasture which connects to the far side of the barn. We will now be able to host events in front of our beautiful barn!

Our farm has also been full of kids at our final art camp of the summer! We had a wonderful fun time and are already planning our ART CAMP for next summer!

In addition to a birthday party, wedding, church fellowship, and bridal shower over the next two months we are busy at the farm preparing for our cool weather garden.

After moving the horse fence back to make the big horse barn more accessible for events at the farm, we realized that we could have a bigger vegetable garden too! Now we have a spot that gets full sun and has been naturally fertilized over the years with horse poo. Perfect!

There really is no reason to limit your harvests to summer. Cold weather gardening opens up a door of new possibilities. Since vegetable gardening doesn’t have to stop when the weather turns cooler, we have decided to put in a winter garden. Vegetables like tomatoes and squash that need the sunny days and warm conditions to complete their perfect ripening, winter crops are mostly vegetables with leaves.

Rock at the farm picking our summer crop of blueberries. 

Rock at the farm picking our summer crop of blueberries. 

Winter is always a good season for a wide variety of crops in the South. At Rolling Hills we have had huge success with lots of cold tolerant winter crops such as spinach, kale, and lettuce. We will plant these again and add radishes and carrots. It is surprisingly simple and weeds are few.

There is still a lot of time for seeding but now is the time to plan. We want to have enough for our family and some to give away. Years ago our friend Jack introduced us to a kind of green called “tender greens” which is a milder version of collards. We will plant the seed right into the ground around the middle of September.

Here are the other plants we are planning to grow in our cool weather garden. We love having our fresh produce during the cool months and they are all super healthy and organic. Win and win!  

·         Spinach: a hardy annual grows during late fall and winter continually putting out leaves that can be picked all winter. These also need to be planted the middle of September.

·         Kale: same as collards is tender and sweet and hardy to 6 degrees.

·         Lettuce: prefers cool weather and is great fall and spring crop. Leaf lettuce is hardier than full head types and can be cut multiple times. We sow seeds early October.

·         Carrots: in the South can be sown as late as early November but as early and July through mid-August.

·         Radishes: need to be in by November 1. They only require a month to mature and the cool weather keeps them from getting hot, like they do in Spring.

·         Broccoli: Can be harvested several times a year, but does great in fall weather. Usually the heads are smaller and more tender than the ones you buy.

Here are a couple great resources for exact planting dates for these and other cool weather plants. Happy Gardening! 

South east gardening Calendar: https://www.lowes.com/creative-ideas/gardening-and-outdoor/southeast-gardening-gardening-calendar/article

https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/growing-a-fall-vegetable-garden

Remembering why we celebrate the 4th

Lately I have been reading about and researching the American Revolution. I am particularly interested in learning more about the courageous George Washington and his role as general and leader of the war that brought about our independence from England. I am intrigued by the bravery of the  men who took on the most powerful force in the world at that time...Great Britain and its king.

 Today our military forces have access to technology, warplanes, sophisticated intelligence, and sadly nuclear weapons. In the 1700s their only fighting power consisted of soldiers...hand to hand combat, a few slow loading rifles and explosives. Their willpower and sheer determination in spite of the odds against them fascinate me. They were so dedicated to their new country and their general that they trudged on in spite of the great number of redcoats that fought against them. They suffered physically; often times they were without  shoes, marching with bloody frost bitten feet, and hungry...day after day FOR YEARS! The newly formed Congress couldn't help much as they were OUT OF MONEY (now that’s a thought!) It is so sad it just makes me want to cry...until I remember the outcome.

 Loving a good mystery, I am intrigued  with the spy accounts of the men and WOMEN (from both the loyalists and patriot sides). Washington put into place a spy ring out of New York called the Culper Spy Ring, which consisted of two men and one woman who smuggled information  to him using invisible ink, messages written on boiled eggs, and even hanging a black petticoat out to dry.  This group could have easily been caught and hung for treason against the king, as they were living in a town occupied by the British. This threesome  was directly responsible for exposing Benedict Arnold for the traitor he was, shortly after Washington appointed him to be head of  West Point.  There were spies in the camp! Read more about them here: http://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/culper-spy-ring

 As I am a history buff and interested in all thing historical,  we took a trip to  Williamsburg, Virginia a few years ago and rode out to Yorktown where the battle of Yorktown was fought during the American Revolution. When  I  first set eyes on the battlefield the serenity overwhelmed me.I can still remember thinking,...this peaceful fenced in pasture  couldn't possibly have been the site of  a raging battlefield where men were killing each other with bayonets and rifles. The grassy bunkers and some cannons were still there as a reminder.

 Today as we celebrate our freedom my mind goes back to the beginning of our country and to what I have learned about those courageous men and women and wondering if I would have been on the right side (patriots), much less risk my life helping fight for the colonies to become the new  country of the United States,  or would I have remained loyal to the king. I would like to think that I would be as brave as the women who became spies and helped  our  General Washington  win the war to become independent of England.

This I know for sure,I am counting myself among those who are grateful to God for the outcome of the American Revolution and for the courageous men and women who fought that long battle for our country's freedom in the beginning .  

As we do each year we put flags up around the farm to celebrate the 4th. This morning I went down to the end of the drive way with Poppy as he put up the last one  and  I was thinking ....  I want the younger generation in my family to fully  understand the meaning behind the celebration  of the 4th of July and really mean it when they ask GOD TO BLESS AMERICA!

 HAPPY 4TH EVERYONE!

Love, Nana

It's not the 4th without Farm Apple Pie

Farm Apple Pie

It’ not July 4th on the farm without pie, apple, cherry, or blueberry. This recipe is so simple you don’t even need a pie dish. That’s right. True farm apple pie the way Granny used to make it is baked on a biscuit pan slathered with butter (cookie sheet with baking spray, or parchment paper). You COULD use a pie dish, but baking the pie on a biscuit pan gives it a free form rustic beauty.

When Granny made this kind of pie it was usually an afterthought. She would use leftover crust from another recipe and fill it with seasonal fruit. This pie can be in the oven in about 10 minutes once you have the crust made. Like Granny, next time you have some leftover crust, throw some fruit and sugar together for a quick farm pie! 

TIPS:

-Use all granny smith apples for this recipe for a sweet tartness. 

-When folding the crust be careful not to puncture the crust. Pinch any holes closed that form so the juice doesn't run out before baking. 

-Don’t skip the egg wash! It gives the pie a perfectly browned crust that looks scrumptious.

 

INGREDIENTS: (makes 2 small farm pies)

3 large or 4 small granny smith apples, peeled and sliced

¾ -1 cup of Sugar

1 tsp. Cinnamon

Dash of Salt

Juice of 1 lemon

2 pie crusts

½ stick of butter cut into pats

1 egg, whisked

1.       Preheat oven to 450.

2.       Squeeze lemon juice over sliced apples and mix.

3.       Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a bow then pour over the apples and toss.

4.       Spread out the pie crusts on a buttered biscuit pan (or cookie sheet). For easier clean up, use parchment paper.

5.       Top the middle of each crust with half of the apple mixture.

6.       Disperse the pats of butter evenly over the apples.

7.       Carefully fold up the sides of the crust over the apples, leaving a generous space in the middle for the apples to vent.

8.       Brush both crusts with the egg wash and sprinkle with extra cinnamon.

9.       Bake at 450 for 10 minutes only. Turn oven down to 350 for 30 minutes.

10.   Serve warm with vanilla ice cream

Farm Recipes for the Fourth

I’m not a color kind of girl. We live in neutrals:  white, cream, gray, and tan. Throw in some natural textures like wood and fur and that’s my kind of place. But, fourth of July is one of those holidays that cannot be celebrated without red, white, and blue.

Our country’s colors are timeless. The stars and stripes evoke a sense of pride and nostalgia. When I was in college I lived in Paris for a semester studying art (which was amazing!), but I remember the first time I heard our national anthem after returning home, flag flying, crowd standing with hands over their hearts. Men removed their caps, and the anthem was sung, clear and strong. The lyrics and the flag were comforting and familiar. It was home.

Our country has its problems and issues, and that will never change, but it’s our home. For better or worse, this is where we live. This is our past and our future. This July 4th, let’s celebrate all the blessings that we have in our land.  

At the farm, we’ve hung our flags and gathered our festive décor, and we’ve planned our menu.  I’ve included some pictures of outdoor seating spaces and listed our favorite recipes for you all.

The best seat in the house in under the garden shed. It’s surrounded by lush greenery. To one side is the horse pasture. An open field with a row of trees and a big sky as the only backdrop. Occasionally, a horse or two will meander into view, then move on to the greener grass. This little nook is shaded, and the breeze is always whispering. This is our oasis. This is where we have coffee with the sunrise. This is where we drink lemonade on lazy afternoons. So naturally, this is where we set up our red, white, and blue.

This year our menu includes:
 Poppy’s famous sausage sandwiches
Homemade coleslaw
Watermelon
Mammaw’s Cherry Delight
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Poppy has perfected his sausage sandwich recipe. He uses wheat sub rolls, hand split and toasted. He picks the best kielbasa sausages, microwaved for one minute then grilled. But, what makes the sandwich awesome is his homemade coleslaw. Personally, I don’t care for any other type of coleslaw, but I eat the kind he makes on everything. He chops the cabbage in a food processor, then mixes it with Duke’s mayonnaise, white vinegar, sugar, and pepper. I’m pretty sure he’s never measured any of the ingredients, just mixes it by taste. And, it’s always the best.  

Mammaw’s Cherry Delight is a third-generation recipe, and my brother’s favorite. The special part of our recipe is that we make the crust, whip our own cream, and put together our own cherry topping when we have time. This recipe can be made with premade crust, cool whip, and canned cherry pie filling but taking the extra steps adds the flavor of love, which is so much sweeter. This recipe is better the longer it cools. Make it up to two days ahead when possible, but let it cool at least 30 minutes. Cherry Delight requires no cooking, so it is perfect for a hot summer dessert. It is substantial, but not heavy. To make it healthier, heap fresh fruit on top rather than pie filling.

 

Mamaw’s Cherry Delight

Crust: Mix together 1 ½ cups of crushed graham crackers, 1 stick of butter, ½ cup of sugar until crumbly. With your hands, pat crust into bottom of a casserole dish or individual bowls.

Filling: Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold in room temperature cream cheese until mixed. Layer on top of crust.

Topping: Most recipes call for canned cherry pie filling, but it’s easy to make a quick topping using fresh or frozen fruit. You can use cherries, blueberries, strawberries, or anything else you like! Place 4 cups of fruit in a saucepan, covered, until they release juices and simmer 10 minutes. Mix 1 cup of sugar and ¼ cup of cornstarch then pour into the fruit. Return to heat and simmer about 2 minutes until thick. Let cool and pour on top of cream cheese mixture.

Summer ART camp : COLORS

 

Primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors are orange, green, and purple. Tertiary colors, complimentary colors, monochromatic color schemes: these are just a few of the lessons taught last week at our colors camp. I also taught a drawing lesson everyday and the farm did not disappoint. Our inspiration was endless. Some kids liked the chickens, some the horses, some liked the huge round hay bales in the hay barn. We collected leaves and drew them, noticing the vein structure of each. The farm is a perfect place to create! 

We just finished our first week of summer art camp at the farm and it was a hit. We had a great group of young artists who has fun creating beautiful pieces of art and lasting memories. The farm lends itself to creativity. No matter where you are sitting, the view is full of beauty and inspiration.

kids on hay bales

Each day during camp we had free drawing time to sketch around the farm. Each of them brought their own sketchbook to fill up. We drew chickens, horses, plants, barns and hay bales. As each of the kids drew, I gave them tips to improve their skills. We talked about horizon line, perspective, negative shapes, light and shadows. I encouraged them to keep drawing after the camp was over. The only way to improve is to practice.

After a quick lesson and free drawing time, we had a time of “recreation art”each day. Monday, we filled water guns with primary colors of paint and shot onto watercolor paper. The colors mixed together and looked like a rainbow painting. Tuesday, we had a scavenger hunt around the farm looking for different colored objects. Wednesday, we created spray paint silhouettes of leaves and flowers. Thursday, we did both water gun painting and spray paint silhouettes again. Those were our favorites!

Jed water gun

Each day we also had studio time where we created a piece of art. Monday and Tuesday we painted chickens and color wheels with watercolor. Wednesday, we created a monochromatic collage. On Thursday, we created mono-prints and another collage using old books. Friday, we learned pointillism.

kids printing

Also on Friday, we spent the morning finishing all pieces of art and each artist signed their work. We created a gallery for each artist on a tri-fold poster board. Then, friends and families attended our gallery opening! It was a special time to show what the kids learned and created all week. The parents enjoyed seeing each kid's work on display. 

We have two more weeks of camp this summer: July 17-21 and August 7-11. Check out our Summer ART camp page for more information and registration! 

kids at gallery

Our Poppy

Our Poppy

My dad knows a little bit about everything, a lot about a lot of things, and everything about a few things. He is like a walking encyclopedia. Bring up any topic to him and he can at least engage and spout a fact or two. He’s been a pilot, a bass master tournament fisherman, a skilled hunter, driven the fastest cars, and traveled almost everywhere in the continental.

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Join us on our JOURNEY!

I could not imagine raising our boys without a farm. It’s a 30-minute drive from our house and we make it several times a week. My parents live on and work the land. Nana and Poppy are both retired so they help tremendously with raising the boys. While they are there, they are true farm hands, well Rock is. Behr is only 6 months old, but he watches.

Rock’s chores on the farm include: feeding the cat, watering and feeding the chickens, collecting eggs, giving hay to the horses, and working on his rock pile. He also spends time climbing fences, pushing his trucks around, filling the wheel barrow with sticks and weeds as Nana gardens, swinging in his tire swing, and splashing in puddles when it rains.

Rolling Hills Farm is a special place, peaceful and quiet. It is fresh and full of new life. It is a place where nature is allowed to thrive. The farm boasts ten acres of land set on a backdrop of big skies. A small farmhouse, a garden shed, a large horse barn, a haybarn, an open covered barn where we entertain, and a dairy barn converted into a workshop complete the structures. The land holds a large hayfield split by a long drive leading to the house, a small orchard, a pine grove, and flowering plants everywhere you look.

Nature is meant to be observed and enjoyed. The first light of dawn peeking through the trees, the cool breeze on a spring evening, the calls of countless birds, the smell of freshly cut grass or a summer rain, the gnarled trees that hold history, the big crystal blue sky hugging the open horizon, even the crow of the rooster, these are the offerings of the farm. Creation declares the glory of God, and y’all I don’t want to miss it. Nature nourishes the soul. It keeps us ever mindful of the great Creator. I want to instill this sense of awe in my children.

The more we experience the farm, the more Travis and I are sure we want some land of our own on which to raise our boys. We have grand plans of homesteading on the farm. We love the idea of working the land and living on what we grow as much as possible. Currently, the farm provides a small vegetable and herb garden, a sweet orchard, black walnut trees, fresh eggs, and a large hay field for the horses. For us, living on the land is not all about health, organic, nonGMO, or anything else. It is about the experience. We want to experience nature. We want to teach our boys about patience through planting and harvesting, a strong work ethic through daily farm work, about engineering through designing and building in the workshop. We have no notions that this life will be easy or always fun, but spending our life with dirt under our nails and sun on our face, exploring this world will be worth it.

Travis and I know little about the farming life. My parents bought the farm the summer before my senior year of high school, so I only lived there one year before I went off to college. Honestly, I hated it at first. We were from the city and I could not understand why they wanted a farm. But the more time I spent there, the more I understood the treasure of wide open spaces. My parents have worked the farm themselves for almost two decades and hold a wealth of knowledge. We have decided that we want the farm life too. So, we are embarking on a journey of learning and documenting as much as we can for ourselves and posterity. Join us as we figure it out!

Growing an Athlete on the Farm

Playing outside is something of the past for most kids in America.  It’s a sad thing really as they are missing a huge aspect of athletic conditioning.  When I was a child, I had a 600-acre farm in the mountains to explore.  Believe me, I left no stone unturned.  I was hiking miles every day.  I was also running, climbing, jumping, lifting rocks, falling, crawling, rolling, balancing, and all the other activities involved with playing on a farm in the mountains of North Carolina.  To me I was just playing, but in reality I was beginning my athletic training. 

 

The moment I began playing sports, I could do pull-ups, squats, pushups, jump well, and land well.  All of the basics were easy for me because I spent my childhood playing like a child should.  As a strength and conditioning coach I don’t have it so well with the athletes that I get to work with.  It’s a different generation an unfortunate one for the children. 

 

It’s rare nowadays when a 12-year-old can knockout pull-ups.  Most children perform horrible looking pushups.  When I was starting my career as a strength coach, I was baffled at the lack of basic athletic development of our youth.  So what has happened to our youth?  Technology is what happened.  Now kids have IPads, IPhones, and video games to play with.  There is no reason to go outside and use their imaginations when they can plop a video game in that places them in a virtual reality world in the Congo. 

 

Look I am all about technology, but there have to be limits for our children.  Parents don’t use technology to babysit your children.  That’s our job as parents.  Too much technology is ruining their imaginations, and leaving them athletically challenged.  So what do we do?

 

I don’t have a 600-acre farm in the mountains, but we do have a 15-acre farm in the rolling hills of North Carolina.  We have horses, chickens, dogs, and cats.  We plan on getting some cows.  We have a garden filled with delicious vegetables.  More importantly we have a place for Rock and Behr to explore, play, and work.  Rock is only two-years-old, and he already has the farm mapped out.

 

Rock already climbs fences, rides his bike, and feeds the chickens with his Nana.  You should see the pile of rocks that he has made with his Radio Flyer Red Wagon.  I am even amazed at how he picked those rocks up.  He climbs up on hay and jumps down.  He is learning all of these skills with the tools that God has gifted all of us with.  It’s just that we aren’t using those tools. 

 

His Poppy (Rock’s Grandfather) has built him swings, sleds, and hiding places.  We are going to use some of the scrap wood around the farm to build Rock and Behr some cool obstacles to play on.  We are going to slowly turn the farm into the perfect early athletic development playground, and we are going to document all of it for you guys to get ideas. 

 

This is something that I am very passionate about.  I am not going to raise an introverted young man that would rather text you rather than shake your hand even when he’s standing right in front of you.  This sounds crazy, but it is true all too often. 

 

We love our farm and the life that it provides for our family.  We are going to document several other aspects of the farm like:

 

·         Adult Fitness on the Farm

·         Gardening

·         Raising animals

·         Caring for the farm

·         Cooking on the farm delicious and healthy

·         Hosting events on the farm

 

I am so excited for this series.  People who know me realize that I am passionate about fitness, family, God, and the farm.  This series will bridge the gap between all four, and hopefully I will be able to teach all of you a thing or two.  My goal for all of you is to learn some new ides for raising an athlete, getting strong and fit at home, cooking delicious food, raising your own food, and possible life on the farm.  I hope that all of you will love it.

 

We will be blogging and vlogging our adventures on the farm.   Maybe we will start a podcast down the road, but for now videos and blogs will be the main ways that we share our ideas.  We are also going to open up a few weekends for a few of you to come hang out on the farm.  We will be training, cooking, and doing life together.  It’s something that Chris Moore and I talked about.  I will release those dates shortly. 

 

If there are certain things that you guys want to learn about, please comment below and I promise to do my best to answer all of your questions.  Thanks for reading, and I am super excited for this new adventure.

 

Barbell Life on the Farm

Whether you are a weightlifter, powerlifter, strongman, CrossFitter, or maybe you just love weight training, there is one common denominator, the barbell.  The barbell is more than just the instrument that we use to perform our chosen sport.  The barbell is more than just a tool used in someone’s training regiment.  The barbell is what bonds all of us together.

This bond is what makes our hobby different from all other hobbies.  People who train with a barbell connect on numerous levels.  We enjoy being around each other because we understand one another.  We understand the struggles of adding 5lb to our back squat.  We understand the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the training.

All of us desire to tame the barbell.  We want to master the barbell.  However that is an impossible task.  The barbell can always add more weight.  You can never master it, and that’s what is so dang beautiful.  There will always be more to learn, and all of us are blood thirsty for that next nugget of knowledge.

York Barbell understood this common bond as far back as 1945.  Bob Hoffman orchestrated legendary picnics during this era where he would put on display some of the finest strength athletes in the world.  People would come from all over the country to see their heroes up close.  More importantly they gathered to be around people that shared their love of the barbell and strength.  It was a weekend where people could forget that an outside world even existed.  For one weekend they would pretend that the only thing on earth that mattered was strength and their desire to get stronger.  It was a strength athlete’s utopia.  

Over the years the York Barbell Picnics faded away, and now they are just moments of history that all of us can only dream of being a part.  However I want to bring this back.  I want to provide a place where all of us can gather, hangout, and enjoy the barbell.

In 2015 we put on the Mash Strength Spectacular on my 11-acre family farm in Mocksville, NC.  Over 1,000 people came from all over the United States to compete, hang out, and take part in such an amazing event.  There is something extraordinary that happens when you mix big weights with nature.  The serenity of watching a beautiful horse trot in the green fields, the crow of a rooster, and mixing in a 200kg Clean & Jerk is an experience that only the ones in attendance can explain or understand.  

We are doing this again on Labor Day Weekend Saturday September 2nd.  Our typically quiet farm will erupt with the sounds of bars dropping and people cheering.  We are having Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman.  We are hoping that this year’s event is going to be even bigger, but the main reason for Strength Spectacular is to meet and hangout with all of you.

Before my friend Chris Moore died, we talked about our lives.  We talked about the things that meant the most to us.  After talking to him, I realized that more than anything I just want to meet people that love the barbell and share my experiences with them.  I want all of you to learn from my mistakes and my successes.  I want to share my funny stories that I have collected over the last thirty years of competing and coaching.  I want to hear all of your stories.  

Sure I can stay behind this computer, write some cool articles, share some videos of my team, and maybe write a book or two.  None of you would ever have to meet me for any of that to happen, but that would leave a big purpose for my life unfilled.  I have no doubts that God put me on this earth to connect with other people.  There is not greater feeling on earth than to help someone else.  If I say something that puts a smile on someone else’s face, my own heart warms with the love that I share with all of you.  

Rolling Hills Farm, my family’s farm, is a place that we want to use to connect with all of you.  The first thing that we have planned is the “Mash Strength Spectacular”.  Like I said that will be a fun day of bar slamming and PR setting.  However it’s when the sun goes down that the real connecting starts.  We will hang out, tell tall tales, and just do life until the wee hours of the night.  I love unscripted hang out time to answer questions, talk about failures, and rejoice over successes.  

Chris Moore and I talked about the importance of moments like this.  I want to help all the young people coming up in the strength world to avoid my mistakes and to take advantage of all the things that I have learned.  Right now this is where God has placed me.  This is what I have to give back to the world.  This is how I am able to love all of you.

Chris and I also talked about hosting a weekend with a small group of people.  I am not talking about a Mastermind.  That has been done, and Barbell Business does a great job with those.  I am talking about a weekend of training, hanging out, talking about business, and more importantly talking about life.

It would look like this:

  • Training twice per day

  • Lunch and Dinner together

  • Yoga and Mobility Work

  • Business Discussions

  • Coaching Discussions

  • Outings such as canoeing, horseback riding, and hiking.

  • Campfires every night just to hang out, talk, and do life.

  • All of it (except the outings) taking place on the Rolling Hills Farm

It’s a dream of mine.  What do you guys and gals think?  Is this something that you all would enjoy?  I would love feedback either below or email me at ➔ info@mashelite.com

Either way we are going to enjoy opening our farm up to all of you.  We will be hosting events of all kinds in the near future.  We are also opening the farm for others to host their own personal events.  You can check out the website below:

➔ www.rhfarmnc.com

Every Farmhouse needs a Wreath

I really love Fixer Upper, but who doesn’t?? I love the idea of transforming spaces, turning awkward into functional. I love the wholesomeness of the show. I can binge on the show and not feel like I filled my brain with trash, but instead I see new ideas and inspiration every time I watch.

I love the farm house, rustic, clean, cozy look that Joanna creates in every house. I love the muted color pallet that she uses. And I love ship-lap walls and I especially love her use of wreaths. Every farmhouse needs a wreath.

I am a craft hoarder, and have plenty of supplies to last a lifetime, a product of too many ideas and not enough time. Which is ironic because now I have a husband, two small kids, and a house to take care of…and I thought that I didn’t have enough time when I was single. Anyway, I count my craft “store” as an investment that I made throughout my late teens and twenties. Now, I’ve determined to put all these supplies to use. As a true DIYer at heart, I prefer to make my own anything rather than buy. Even when I see one in the store, there is something in me that will stall me from purchasing. I KNOW I could do it myself with a little time and energy, a few dollars maybe.

I found myself one Saturday at Home Goods, lingering over the display of wreaths, and dreaming about which ones I would put around our home {and how I could rearrange the furniture to accommodate.} I ultimately went home empty handed, but my head swimming with ideas. I wanted a wreath and I wanted to make it right then, while the inspiration was hot. A trip to A.C. Moore should do it. Well, by the time we got there, my toddler was fast asleep. It was nap time, after all. So I drove home without any supplies determined to truly DIY a wreath with whatever I had at home. {No wreath frames in my home “craft store”, unfortunately}.

 I searched Pinterest and found a beautiful wreath made from an old book, which I could totally create! We have a piano in the living room that came with a bench full of old music books, including a hymnal. So naturally I chose the hymnal for my wreath. I used the top of a pizza box from the recycling bin to create the frame. I traced a dinner plate for the size and a salad bowl for the inside ring.

Now for the folding of the cones, that takes some practice if you’ve never done it. I watched a couple YouTube tutorials and figured it out. The only other supplies that I needed were: an exacto knife to cut the pages out of the hymnal, a stapler to secure each page into a cone shape, and a hot glue gun to glue the cones to the frame. And after about 2 hours I was well on my way to a new wreath for our living room. Naturally, it’s hanging above the piano.

 

 

wreath above piano