4th of July Cowbell Banner

Cowbell Banner I’m sneaking this project in under the wire for a little holiday festivity. Ever since the pennant banner took over the internet, I’ve developed a real love for banners as party decorations. It’s so fun to have something besides table top stuff to really bring the party over the top. But I’m also sick to death of pennant banners, so I’m always looking for a way to reinvigorate things. I realized the answer as soon as I found these colorful bells: More Cowbell.

Supplies You will need:
Holiday colored cowbells (If you can’t find holiday cowbells in your craft store, a little spray paint will do the job.)

Glitter Glue or dimensional paint

Rope in a coordinating color

Step 1 Use your glitter glue and dimensional paint to fancy up your bells. I stuck with the holiday theme of stripes, but kept things simple with dots instead of stars. Sticking with the metallic colors, I think dots are enough to make my point.

Step 2 Cut a piece of rope long enough for the space you’re decorating. I cut about eight inches per bell so that I’d have room for knots and plenty of space to keep the bells from hitting each other. I wanted the bells to clang, but not drive anyone away. After you attach the first bell you’ll need to drag the whole rest of the rope through each bell in order to tie it, so it works best if you make several shorter banners instead of one super long one.

Bell Banner I’ve been saving this project since last summer when I originally made it for Darice, and thanks to Atti’s surgery I nearly missed the holiday again! Lucky for all of us this project is so quick you can make it the day of the celebration. You could even put the supplies out and let the kids decorate while they’re getting antsy for fireworks. And make an unholy racket while they play. You might want to keep your “More Cowbell” jokes to yourself, though. Kids just don’t get it.

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Newsflash: In Vitro is hard!

Fertility Meds

Every time I think I’ve got the hard stuff of this year behind me and I’m ready to get back on the horse of regular life, the next thing comes along and knocks me flat again. We’re now at a year and a half of health garbage taking over my life – when it wasn’t outright threatening it – all with the hope of having another baby. This kid better be dang cute, that’s all I have to say. And, of course, it better exist.

I have gotten through the egg retrieval phase of IVF, which really really sucked. Like, bad. Over the years I’ve known hundreds of people who have done IVF and everyone said it was hard, but nobody really prepared me for exactly how hard it is. Granted, I am a medical marvel that will find every possible complication, but still. I had to put every single other thing in my life on the back burner and just do this. While Bear got Atti on the bus and raced home from work to pick him up, I laid on the couch watching old episodes of the Bachelor and moaning.

Every ounce of energy that wasn’t necessary for breathing was draining into my ovaries. I slept and slept and slept and I was still exhausted as my egg factories were kicked into hyperdrive, reacting to the oodles of medication I was taking every day. My belly was so swollen I looked like a waterbed, and I was covered from hip to belly button in giant bruises and puncture marks.

Since I’m one of those women who has pain during ovulation, and here I was hyper ovulating, it was not only exhausting, but PAINFUL. And even taking advil freaked me out, panicked I’d be causing harm to the eggs or risking the whole process. I used a heating pad to try and get a little relief but even then I was too worried about making hard boiled eggs to have it help much.

But all of that investment in energy paid off when we got news that there were over 30 eggs waiting to be retrieved. I went in for a quick procedure where they sedated me and then used a needle to aspirate up each of those little eggs. By the time I woke up they were already at the lab being joined by a sperm that had been individually chosen as the best candidate. I had visions of embryologists looking through their microscopes at a little sperm beauty pageant, the winner crowned and injected directly into the egg. Then we just had to wait and let nature take its course.

Of course, since I am, once again, a medical oddity, I had complications even from this little procedure. I had some bleeding that they couldn’t get stopped easily, which resulted in bleeding into my abdominal cavity. Apparently, I’ve learned the hard way, there is a major nerve that runs underneath the diaphragm and sends the impulse to move up and down to breathe. This nerve gets aggressively irritated by blood. So for nearly three weeks this nerve was driving me to distraction. The first night I felt like I was drowning, it felt like I couldn’t get my lungs to fill. Then as my body slowly, slowly, slowly absorbed the blood that was causing all the problems, I began to breathe easier, but I still had intense shooting nerve pain up into my shoulder. After a month of exhaustion making the eggs, I had another month of pain just trying to heal from getting them.

It was disheartening to watch the numbers go down at each stage of development – 30+ eggs retrieved, 16 fertilized, 12 grew to day 2, 8 made it to “blast stage” and on and on. I kept trying to remind myself that it didn’t matter how many embryos we had as long as we got a baby at the end, but it was terrifying to think of everything I’d put in to this process and know that it could all still go wrong at so many different points.

Just before we were ready to proceed to the implantation stage – where they put the embryos into my uterus and wait to see if a pregnancy is achieved – we got yet another twist thanks to my dang malfunctioning body. My hormone levels were out of whack and they felt it was best to wait before trying to get pregnant. So they took our little embryos and popped them in the freezer until I could get everything all cozy for them. I admit, I was crushed. This just felt one too far. After all the pain and exhaustion and sacrifice, to still not have it work out for us, I just about lost it. But once I could calm down and think it all through, I was kind of glad to have a little time to heal before launching into a pregnancy (knock on wood). This whole process has been so rough, it ended up being a good thing to be able to get myself back together before dealing with pregnancy symptoms on top of all the pain and exhaustion I’d just gotten through.

We’ve got four little embryos waiting for us in the freezer, and now we’re just waiting until I can dedicate another month to shots and daily office visits to see if all of this suffering of the last year and a half will prove fruitful. Hopefully August will be a lucky month. Hopefully those four little popsicle babies will actually make it into this world. And hopefully they’ll all be just like Atticus.

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Cherry Pie Pops

Cherry Pie Pops
One last farm related treat before I wrap up all the festivities, and that’s these Cherry Pie Pops. Homemade pie is such a perfect All-American staple, I knew I had to have it reflected in my Farm Table. But there was no way I was letting 20 kids loose in my house with plates full of cherry pie. These pie pops were the perfect solution. All of the tastiness of pie, but somehow I made it through the entire party without any cherry stains on my rugs!

Step 1
Since I was in time management mode, I used a pre-made refrigerated dough. If I was serving this to grown ups I’d make my own, but either way you just roll your pie dough out as normal. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out as many pieces as you can.

Step 2
Line the pieces up on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and press a lollipop stick down into the dough.

Step 3
Spoon some pie filling into the center. I actually kind of overfilled the pies in the picture. You want to be able to get that top piece on.

Step 4
Use a fork to pinch the edges of both pie crusts closed, then cut a couple of slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Since there’s a lot of crust to a smaller amount of filling than usual, I gave the crusts a little touch of water and then sprinkled them with sugar, just to up the sweetness a bit more.

Pie Pops
When it comes to the epic cake vs. pie debate, I’m a member of team cake. But if we’re talking cake pops vs. pie pops, these win, hands down.

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Corn Cob Marshmallow Treats

Corn Cob TreatsWith Easter behind me, I have to get back to showing you all the ideas I had for Atti’s farm themed birthday party. The party was a success for Atticus, but also a big success for me since I got to go nuts with the snacks and live out all my Pinterest dreams.

popcornWe borrowed a popcorn machine from Bear’s work and had popcorn popping all day. The goats were BIG fans of this one.

Orange PumpkinsA few other ideas were simple things I saw online. These orange pumpkins popped up all over the place, and so did serving potato chips and chex mix under the names “wood shavings” and “chicken feed” respectively. I’d link to something if I could find an originator, but everything I found just has people saying “I saw this online.”

But these Corn Cob treats are all mine, and I’m obsessed with them.

Step 1If you’ve ever made rice krispie treats, you know how to make these. I followed the instructions of the back of the marshmallow bag and melted together 3 T butter and the contents of one bag of marshmallows.

Step 2Then stir in 6 cups of Kix cereal and keep stirring until each little ball is coated in marshmallow.

Step 3Scoop the goopy covered cereal out onto parchment paper, making little handful sized mounds. Let these cool down until they’re not too hot to touch.

Step 4When the cereal treats are cool enough to touch but while they’re still warm and malleable, give each mound a squish to get it thoroughly stuck together but also to shape it into a corn cob shape. Just a long oval will do, you don’t need to put much thought into it.

Step 5For serving, and to finish the look, put each treat into a cellophane serving bag. Give the top of the bag a twist and tie it closed with green raffia to make it look like a husk.

Not only are these treats about the cutest things ever, but making them with Kix instead of Rice Krispies really changes the taste. There’s more cereal compared to marshmallow, so they’re not so cloyingly sweet. They disappeared embarrassingly fast. Like, Bear may or may not now posdess a blackmail picture of me double fisting these while my mouth is already full. I have to remember to stay on his good side now.

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Haystack Cookies….or Birds Nest Cookies!

Birds Nest Cookies

This is a two for one recipe. The only difference is which theme your party treats need to fit. If you’re throwing a farm birthday like I did for Atticus, then these are Haystack Cookies. If you’re looking for an adorable little treat to bring to Easter dinner, than these are Birds Nest Cookies. Either […]

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Fun Foam Flowers and Chicken Wire Napkin Rings

Fake Flowers

I have more farm birthday stuff to show you, but I had to take a break before Easter comes and tramples right over me. Farm birthday goodies are coming, but for today I had to share this little project with all of you preparing for a big Easter meal and looking for a quick and […]

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Atti’s Introvert Friendly Birthday Party

Alpaca

For Atti’s whole life, any mention of a birthday party was met with screams and tears. Even attending other kids birthday parties were too much for him to take as he was humiliated by proxy with all the attention on the birthday kid. Even hearing Happy Birthday in a restaurant was enough to send him […]

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DIY Photo Rig

DIY Photo Rig

Blogging is so completely different from when I started out. To keep going after ten years you gotta find ways to keep it fresh, and for me, that’s been through my Youtube channel. I just had a reason to link to one of my early videos and I’m amazed at how bad it looks. There’s […]

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Crock Pot Swiss Steak Pot Roast

Swiss Steak Pot Roast

th This was one of the very first recipes I ever shared here on the blog, but in the years since I first posted it I’ve fine tuned the recipe and figured it was time to add photos and video. Gosh I’ve been doing this for a long time. Everything has changed. How I came […]

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Year of Pleasures – A Day at the Nursery

Nursery

When I buy plants it’s usually while I’m doing something else. I’ll pick up a little something while I’m buying nails at the hardware store. Or I’ll buy some herb seedlings along with my groceries. I haven’t been to an honest to goodness nursery since I don’t even know when. But with my friends coming […]

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