Reading Room – MaryJane’s Outpost by MaryJane Butters

MaryJanes Outpost was my most recent read and it was fabulous!  Just released last week I have ooh’d and ahh’d over this book since Wednesday.  This book is all about enjoying the great outdoors!  If you like camping, fishing, hiking, or just enjoy being outside than you will truly enjoy this book.  It is filled with ideas, how-to’s, recipes and all kinds of helpful information.

In the year 2000 after I spent my first summer in Arkansas I thought I was going to die! Having been raised in New England where the days may be in the 90′s with no humidity and the nights often got into the low 50′s this deal of the temperature NEVER dropping below 75 about did me in.  But the truth is I have come to love the summers here and spending time outdoors is something I love to do.

Earlier this summer I built a chicken coop and started a compost pile.  Currently I am working to build a fairly good sized raised bed garden for next season.  I should have it ready enough to plant some garlic this fall and put in a good crop of lettuce before years end.

I have also really become interested in the concept of “outdoor living” where you create spaces outside that are just as comfortable and enjoyable as your own living room.  One concept that never really crossed my mind until I read “Outpst” was that of bathing outdoors.  Not until I came across the Instructions for an Outpost Bathtub anyways!  I’m not gonna share the directions-you’ll have to buy the book for that-but here is a picture of what I want to make.

I have an old cast-iron tub in the barn that will be just perfect for this little project.  It needs some major cleaning and some refinishing but by fall I will have an Outpost Bathtub!

To purchase this book please click here!

Summer Break is FINALLY here!

Yes I am a teacher and yes school has technically been out since the 23rd of May and yes we did take 5 days to go to Virginia.  But we are also required to get 60 hours of professional development over the course of the summer.  The education co-op offers workshops all summer long but Richie and I decided we wanted to try to get them out of the way early this year.  Since we both have master’s degrees and Richie has about 40 credit hours beyond a master’s we have been in University classes every summer in the eight years that we have been married.  This is actually the first summer that neither of us have University obligations.  Well today was our last official workshop until school starts back on August 7th. I have 43 days of uninterrupted vacation ahead of me.  I was able to attend all art related workshops.  Richie attended 3 of them with me which was really nice.  It was really neat to see him tap in to his creative side and he did some interesting work.  Here are some of the projects we did over the last 3 workdays.

PAINTING AND PERSPECTIVE DRAWING

Covered Bridge by Richie

Covered Bridge (unfinished) by Julie

Pattern Turtle #1 by Richie – he didn’t like it so he “ran it over”

Pattern Turtle #2 by Richie

Pattern Turtle by Julie

Mixed Animal by Richie

Mixed Animal by Julie

Pattern Hand by Richie

Pattern Hand by Julie

Comic Strip by Richie

Comic Strip by Julie (I CAN NOT draw people!)

We really had lots of fun! I got lots of great ideas for my classes next year.  I was proud of Richie for trying everything and surprised to see that he actually has a lot of natural talent.  He said the last time he drew anything was about 22 years ago!!!

Happy Fathers Day, Dad!

I love this picture! I took this picture about two weeks ago.  My dad was teaching Richie how to fly fish.  You can really see the sparkle and excitement in my dads eyes.  This is how he is about everything.  My dad is really smart.  He knows about so many things, is capable of doing many things and has accomplished many things in his life.  I am really proud of my dad.  I feel like I have learned so much from my dad.  I have never felt like I had to depend on anyone else to get anything done.  Dad has always taught us to do for ourselves and if we didn’t know how than learn how.  Of course Dad is never to proud to ask for help when he needs it.  I love this picture because in one single snapshot, a millisecond in time, I was able to capture who my dad is.  It really says a lot to me.  Plus he is wearing his favorite hat that he has had about 15 years or more!  I love you Dad! Happy father’s day!

Mmmm…Bakeover

A Bakeover is a one-skillet savory meal made using any combination of veggies, meats and a Farmgirl Budget Mix™or other Mary Janes organic bread mix.  For my bakeover I used the organic Garlic Pesto Fry Bread.  This was my first attempt at a bakeover and it was SO good!

My husband was gone for the day to a Chess Tournament so I thought this would be a good time to try this out.  Although he is getting better, Richie is often afraid to try new things, especially if it involves vegetables.

Here is my fresh veggie Bakeover.


Start with one package of your choice of organic bread mix available from MaryJanesFarm.org.


Chop 2 small or one medium onion.  I use Vidalia Onions.


Chop 1/4 to 1/2 of a red bell pepper.


Chop 1/2 of 1 zucchini.


Chop 1 whole yellow squash.


Halve a handful of cherry tomatoes.


Saute in 2 tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil over medium-high heat about 4-5 minutes until veggies just start to get tender.


Add any fresh herbs you have in your garden.  I used thyme, rosemary and basil.

Prepare the bread mix according to the package directions.  Roll a 9″ circle of dough and place over the veggies in the skillet.  Place the skillet in a 425° oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and invert onto a plate.

Immediately sprinkle the top with some hand torn fresh mozzarella cheese.  Garnish with thyme and serve.

It was VERY yummy!

 

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is REALLY important.  Most sunscreens claim to have a three year shelf life but I am not sure I agree with this.  Last week I got into the pool.  Before I suited up I covered myself with Coppertone Sport SPF 30 that I had purchased last summer.  I noticed the lotion was a little “thin” but didn’t really think anything of it. I knew the container hadn’t been near any water so I thought maybe I had just forgotten what the consistency was.

I was in the pool about 30 minutes.  About an hour after coming in I started to notice that my upper arms, shoulders and back were really hot and sore.  After looking in the mirror I realized I had gotten a pretty significant sunburn.  I have pretty fair skin and quite a few freckles and moles so skin cancer is something I need to take seriously.  I always use sunblock.  I even use sunblock on my face in the winter and use a chap stick with SPF.

I did some research and looked at my bottle of sunscreen.  There was a manufaturers print on the bottle that said B06.  This means that particular bottle was manufactured in February 2006.  So when I bought this sunscreen in the Summer of 2007 it was already over a year old! 

I immediately went to the store and bought a new bottle.  I checked the code and it was D08 which means April 2008.  While I RARELY “endorse” non-organic products I was really pleased with my purchase.

I bought this Coppertone Sport Continuous Spray.  This sunscreen is GREAT! I can easily spray it onto hard to reach places like my back.  It sprays on clear and doesn’t need to be rubbed in.  You do need to let it dry before entering the water though.

Anyway, whatever product you choose to use doesn’t matter as long as you are using something.  Organic or not you NEED to protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun.  Take care of your skin this summer!

ON A SIDE NOTE

Thank you to EVERYONE who left comments or emailed me about the loss of Kensi.  I was really touched by the number of people who took the time to read my story and then to go a step further and send me a little note.  It really helped me to deal with the loss of Kensi much easier.  I miss her but I am at peace with it.  Thank you so much!

Goodbye Kensi

“Kensi” Kensington July 27, 2000 – June 8, 2008

My doggy died today.  I knew it was probably going to happen soon.  Kensi had been sick since about the beginning of May.  Having been bitten by a snake in the same spot she was bitten last year she was really having a hard time recovering.  We had her on some strong antibiotics and medicine which seemed to help at first but she just couldn’t seem to beat the infection.  The infection had moved into the rest of her body so we decided that after a second round of treatment we would have her put down if there were no signs of improvement.  With four days of medication left Kensi made the decision for us and died while we were at church this morning.

It is so hard when it is a pet because in many ways it feels silly to have so much affection for an animal.  I have cried off and on all day today.  Richie and I don’t have children so in many ways we baby our animals.

Kensi was the first pet Richie and I got after marrying.  Her birthday is actually two days before we got married.  We bought Kensi in late September of 2000 from a Golden Retriever breeder in Conway, Arkansas.  The breeder lived on Kensigton Lane which is how we decided on Kensi’s name.  The first night we brought her home I made a bed of blankets on the floor beside our bed.  Kensi cried and cried until finally I picked her up and let her get in the bed.  She fell asleep in minutes.

I had intended for Kensi to be an inside dog but she had other plans.  She loved to be outdoors!  About three weeks after getting Kensi there was a forest fire in the pine forest that borders our land.  The fire caused a lot of mice and other creatures to seek homes on our land and around our house.  We decided to get some kittens to help control the mice population.  Kensi LOVED the cats!  She had a special bond with one cat we called Sundae.  They went everywhere together.  When Sundae disappeared one day Kensi eventually adopted another cat.  She always had some cat by her side.  In the winter she would rather sleep on the porch with five cats piled on top of her than come in the house.  About 3 or 4 years ago she adopted our cat BB.  When BB had kittens she would leave them with Kensi who would babysit while she went off to eat.  It was very comical especially when they would try to nurse on Kensi.  Last summer BB had one kitten that really took a liking to Kensi. His name is Obama.  He has been Kensi’s shadow for the last 10 months.  I am sure he will miss Kensi.

Besides playing with cats Kensi loved to go for walks.  If we walked 10 miles she would be right there with us.  She loved to go hunting with Richie in the fall too.  Unfortunatly because hunting regulations prevented Richie from “using” a dog for hunting he often had to chain her up at home before heading into the woods.

Kensi also loved turtles.  She could find turtles in the silliest of places and she would just carry them around in her mouth.  Sometimes she would chew them but mostly she would just carry them off.  When she got tired she would drop them.  They would usually land on their backs.  I would always try to watch so I could flip them over.

Kensi was a great dog.  She didn’t really like to cuddle but she was always there.  When we were in the yard she was with us.  She always slept on the porch seemingly guarding the front door.

I am so sad that she is gone but I am glad she isn’t hurting.  I know she didn’t feel well for the last few weeks.  I guess I selfishly hoped I could make her better.  When I saw her this morning she looked peaceful and happy when she looked at me so maybe she was happy to be going.  Maybe she just smiled at me to let me know it would be alright.

Goodbye Kensi. I will miss you.

Kensi just after we got her.

 


Kensi and Sundae.

 


Kensi and Sassy.

 


Kensi this winter in the snow.

 


Kensi and Hagrid.

 


Kensi – Taken on May 30, 2008.  This was the last picture I took of Kensi.

Visiting Virginia

Richie and I just returned from visiting my parents in Virginia.  We had such a great time!  My mom and dad own a beautiful bed and breakfast in Lovingston, Virginia.  They didn’t take any reservations while we were there so we had the whole place to ourselves and got to do lots of fun stuff.

Monday Morning/Afternoon

  • Drove to Sharandoh Lake in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Hiked and relaxed by the lake.
  • Thought there was a bear in the bathroom.  Turned out to be a cleaning lady.
  • Had a picnic of fried chicken, cheese, grapes, strawberries, chips and salsa. YUM!
  • Saw a naked guy who decided to change into his swim suit on the beach instead of using the bath house! EWWWW!
  • Saw a big swarm of butterflies and bees.

 

Monday Afternoon/Evening

  • Relaxed by the pool.
  • Ate Ribs and mashed potatoes.
  • Drove by the Strawberry Patch to take some pictures.
  • Dad taught Richie how to fly fish over at their friends pond.
  • Mom and I rolled down a BIG hill! It was so fun!

 

Tuesday

  • Visited Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in Charlottesville.
  • Picked up Nammy (my grandma) and went downtown.
  • Had lunch in one of the open air bistros.
  • Wandered around a used/rare bookstore and several other shops.
  • Had Gelato for dessert!!!!! YUM!
  • Went back to Nammy’s place and looked at her scrapbooks and chatted for a little while.
  • Headed back home to relax.

 

Wednesday

  • Went to an Antique shop in Amherst.
  • Went to a quilt shop and used book store in Lovingston.
  • Relaxed around the house.
  • Enjoyed the fresh air.
  • Played games.
  • Had a delicious steak, baked potato and corn on the cob dinner.

Thursday

It was time for us to head home.  Mom and dad had to get ready for guests that would be checking in later that afternoon so after a quick breakfast we had to go.  It was so wonderful to spend time with my parents.  They have such a beautiful place.  It was really great!

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