Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Doing what I love for the rest of my life

We are all familiar with the saying, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." Oe of my biggest fears is not being able to find that job. The one I love. The one I look forward to every day. I've always had a general idea of what I wanted to do after school, but nothing solid. Mostly just theories about what the perfect job was for me.

Since I was a little girl I had always wanted to be a veterinarian. Not only did I enjoy caring for animals, but I enjoyed helping people. I loved taking our family's dogs in for their appointments and observing the steps taken by our long time vet. He even let me come in one summer and watch him perform surgeries.

When I joined the Marines, I always just assumed I would continue with my education after service. But I never really considered how it would essentially "set me back" 4 or more years. By the time I had finished my service all my peers from high school were graduating college. Some were even starting their careers.

When I started school I enrolled in Mesa College in San Diego as a vet tech student. Shortly after I met Garrack. By the end of the spring semester we were engaged and planning our move cross country to Connecticut.

That, of course, put my schooling on hold for a bit so I cold find a school and get to know my surroundings. But by the time I was accepted into Quinnipiac University I found that they no longer offered a vet tech degree. The only other school in the whole state that held accreditation was to far away to commute on a daily basis.

I had to come to a realization that as a 24 year old who was preparing to marry and wanting a family soon, a career as a vet was just not viable. I had to complete my bachelors and then move on to an additional 6 or more years somewhere else. It was time to explore my options.

I still really wanted a career working with large animals in some sort of health profession. While searching online I came across equine massage therapy. Perfect!

Recently we've been talking about the possibility of moving back toward the Colorado area. We miss the big sky and the people in the heartland of the country. We just aren't "coast dwellers". The only downside of that was realizing that we would be moving from an area with lots of highly competitive riding stables to an area with far less of them. The likelihood of being hired by a cattle farm to massage a horse is much less than a show jumping stable.

Back to the drawing board.

It has taken a lot of thought. A lot of moments where I've thought "Maybe... no... not that". Truthfully, I've known what would make me happy for a good year now. I've kept it secret though, afraid of being laughed at or told that I couldn't possibly do it.

This week I couldn't ignore my heart any longer. I finally shared my idea with Garrack. And though I know he would support me in anything I wanted to do, he basically told me, "What took you so longer to figure that out?!"

The Fox & Bear Homestead will no longer be just a hobby or something to help feed my family. It will now also function as a source of income for us.

I am so excited to dedicate myself to this. To join the farming community and provide real food for local families. I've become very passionate about farm to table and food that people can truly trust.

This fall I'll be digging in and planning everything out to have a great first year in 2016. I'll be sharing the journey, of course, on the blog, Facebook, and Instagram (@foxandbearhomestead). It will be trying and a lot of hard work, but I know it's something I will look forward to every day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I'm finally back! Excuse my sudden hiatus from everything. My computer caught some strange virus thing that kept me from being able to get online. And me, being very tech knowledge limited, had not a clue what to do to fix it. But all is well now. And just in time for this super awesome Thrift Store Swap!

I teamed up with 5 wonderful ladies in a fun exchange. We each were paired with another blogger and had a $10 spending limit to play with.

I was paired up to receive from MidMichigan Mom and to send something to At Home with Sweet T.

So this is what I got from MidMichigan Mom...

Opening the package was like Christmas and I was beyond excited with the treasures I got.

I am currently working on fixing up and decorating the indoor balcony that connects to my daughter's room and goes out into our sun/green room. I wanted her to have a cool "hideaway" just for her. So I knew I wanted to use these items to create some neat decorations for that space.

The color palette for the balcony.

I started with the candle sticks and "&". The "&" I didn't want to do too much with. I thought i was pretty cool already. But I did need to brighten it up with a coat of spray paint. I had some leftover from my DIY bird bath, so I just knocked it out quick.

Isn't it just so cute?! I couldn't bring myself to mess with it too much with all that beautiful detail. And it fits so perfectly on top of these cute little Winnie the Pooh board books I got from the Target Dollar Spot.

The candlesticks also needed some paint. So I took a can of baby pink to those suckers and made them all girly. I was inspired by this teacup bird feeder and thought what would go better with pink in a little girl's hideaway than tea cups?

I picked up a couple from the clearance section of Marshall's along with two porcelain birds with cut out details to sit inside of them. I then glued some pearls I found at Michael's around the bottom of the candlesticks and made a little nest of moss inside for the birds to sit on.

Are you ready for the magical bit? I noticed that the birds had holes on the underside. So I picked up LED color changing tea lights from the Dollar Tree to put inside to make them glow.

Next I tackled the weird box game thing. The bottom of this box actually pulls out to reveal a storage compartment. A secret hiding spot!

The best secret hiding spots are ones that look like something else. So I pulled out the little horse figurines I had glittered for Arlette's first birthday (I knew I would use those things again) and created a wild glitter pony scene.

I painted the box coral, glued some moss on top, and then picked out the best looking ponies to run free through the "grass".

I think this is my favorite piece out of the bunch.

I wish glitter ponies were real.

The hidden compartment.

All together everything looks so cute on the shelves.

Finally I had the 3 pieces of leather. I thought it would be cool to frame them with some sort of art. Following with the theme of nature and birds, I picked up some white feathers from Michaels. I painted the tip of them to match the color scheme and then colored the rest of each feather with a metallic gold sharpie. Then I just glued them to the leather and framed them with Dollar Store frames.

I am so in love with how everything turned out! It has added so much neat character to the balcony.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how I turned someone else's "junk" into little treasures for my daughter. What would you have done with all these goodies?

Now go check out how MidMichigan Mom and At Home With Sweet T did up their swap items! They're pretty amazing.

Or hop around amongst the other ladies who took part in the swap and see what they made:

CC McAfee Perspective
Five Kids, a Dog & a Blog
Happily Ever After, Etc.

Monday, May 11, 2015

DIY Bird Bath

When we moved into our house there was a random patch of overgrown grass and weeds in the front yard. For a while we ignored it, figuring there was some sort of rabbit den there. Finally we actually looked at the darn thing and found that the original owners had left a broken bird bath there and just mowed around.

When we moved the bath and mowed down the weeds we had this ugly patch in the lawn that screamed for some fixing up. Looking around on Pinterest I found many folks who turned a couple of large clay planting pots into a bird bath. I really liked how they came out and thought it would be perfect for the "spot" in the yard.

This project was pretty fun and can easily be completed in an afternoon. I went to the Home Depot and picked up two 16" terra cotta planting pots, a 16" terra cotta saucer, 3 cans of Rust-Oleum Universal spray paint in matte Robins Egg blue, a Sharpie oil-based marker in black, and Gorilla Glue all-purpose.

I started by stacking my pots. Place one upside-down, put a thin line of glue in a circle around the bottom and stack the second pot right-side up on top of that. It takes about an hour for the glue to set. 

Check on it a couple of times while you wait. Gorilla glue actually expands to fill in cracks and holes to bond the two pots. Some of my glue ran down the sides. I just used a plastic bag wrapped around my finger to smooth it out and avoid bumps of glue.

Once the glue dried it was time to put my saucer in. This acts as the bath portion that holds the water. I saw in most DIY's that folks bought a really huge saucer to simply place on top of the pots. This is great to make for easy changing of dirty and clean water. You just pick it up and place it on the pots. The end. However, I had plans to put plants around my bird bath and didn't want to worry about the saucer falling off and squashing everything or the whole bath getting caught in the wind and blowing over (we've had some really strong gusts take down huge tree limbs). I opted for a saucer that fit snuggly inside the top of my pot to create a very sleek bath.

It was a little tricky lowering the saucer in. I actually had to use some plastic I had from a box I had delivered and used it to try to lower it into the pot as flat as possible. It would have been super smart of me to use a level with this part, but I was to excited about getting to the spray painting potion. So my saucer is slightly tilted. I look at it like a swimming pool for birds with a shallow end that slopes to the deep end (1 point to me for looking on the bright side).

Once the saucer was snuggly fitted, I went around the edge with glue.

When the project was completed I found that there were some open spots that drained my water. If this happens to you just pick up a can of caulk to fill in the crack. I just bought some DAP clear all-purpose caulk so I wouldn't have to spray paint it again. If you can only use white be sure it is the kind that is ok to paint over.

Now the fun part! PAINT! The brand that I bought is nice because it is safe for outdoor use on any surface and it sprays in a fine mist. This kept from having running paint streaks or weird bubbles form after drying. Added bonus of the fine mist, it dries super quick! It took about 2 1/2 cans to cover everything fully.

Tim to decorate! I used a pencil to outline some stencils I had printed of the fox and bear silhouettes I use in my banner. I then used the oil-based sharpie to "paint" them in. Make sure you are only using the oil Sharpies and not the regular ones. They are water proof so you don't have to follow up with any clear spray paint to seal them.

Finally, after digging out some large weed roots from the "spot", I had my husband move the bath over (because that sucker was heavy) and put down some soil.

We had decided to plant some berries around the bird bath. Since we already have a raspberry bush we really wanted some strawberries. At the Home Depot I found these berries called Hula Berries that are like inverse strawberries (they are white with red seeds) and are supposed to taste like pineapple! They came in a 4 pack of 3 hula berry plants and 1 strawberry plant (it acts as the pollinator).

The only thing left is to pick up some bricks to create a border around the patch. 

Total cost of this project was about $85 with tax and left me with leftover materials for future projects. Baths at the Home Depot of a similar weight and quality run at least $10 more. Granted, that isn't a whole heck of a lot, but you get a personalized piece for your home. Plus, how super cute would this be with your kids hand prints in all sorts of colors all over it? Or an American flag one?!

I love how everything turned out and can't wait to see what types of visitors our new bath brings to our home.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Paging Dr. Mom: Milk & Honey

I'm really excited about this new series I'm going to share with you guys! I'm very big into natural remedies and medicines. I'm not opposed to modern medicine, I just prefer to use it as a last resort. So "Paging Dr. Mom" will show you all the tried and true things I use for my family when they aren't feeling their best.

I think Arlette is having some allergy issues as the weather beings to warm up here in Connecticut. The poor girl started coughing and sneezing last night. So at dinner yesterday I gave her a milk and honey drink to help sooth her throat.

Honey is, seriously, magical. It is antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and an anti-inflammatory for some respiratory issues (like a sore throat). Milk is a soporific. Science-y talk for something that induces drowsiness. So mixing the two makes for a fantastic night time remedy for a sore throat and cough.

Reminder: Children under 12 months of age should not have honey.

I filled up her cup with milk (we use whole) and warmed it in a small pot on medium-high heat. You can heat the milk in the microwave if you are in a rush, but I personally don't. Heating breastmilk in the microwave is a big no-no because of how it denatures the nutrients. And, though cows milk is already heated for pasteurization, I just feel like it's best to heat it on the stove-top. But that's just me.

To help with the overall flavor and make it taste more like a special treat, I added 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla. Since this was made up in a child's sippy cup, I would suggest using a full teaspoon if you are making it up for a mug.

Keep your eye on the milk! Don't walk away from it. Milk heats pretty quickly and if you heat it for too long you get a protein film on the top and cause a burnt taste. Yuck.

Once the milk was warm I added a heaping scoop of honey with my honey comb. It probably measured to about a teaspoon. If you are making it in a mug, I would use a 1/2 to full tablespoon.

If you can, always try to buy local honey. The benefit of buying local is that bee's are using the local pollen. This can help strengthen your immune system to allergies or colds that are local to your area. If you have ever moved from one state to another (or even just across state) you may notice that you get a cold or feel less than perky. Drinking tea with the local honey can help with those moving symptoms.

The warm milk will dissolve the honey. Give it a good stir and then serve.

Arlette loved it. The major bonus, she went right to sleep when bed time rolled around 2 hours later.

This drink is so soothing you can even enjoy it sans-nasty cough.

Good job Dr. Mom.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A simple apology

Why can't apologizing be just that easy any more? When we were kids and we fought with friends it was simple. You say your sorry. They say they're sorry. Then you go play Hot Lava on the playground. Bing bang boom. Done.

Now, it's all about who should apologize first (if at all), who did who more wrong, and how an apology is accepted.

The perfect way to apologize is pretty much nonexistent. Goodness knows I've apologized enough to figure that out (I tend to be hot headed and a little quick on the social trigger). But what I've discovered is that simple is powerful when it comes to apologizing.

I've thought about this for a while and I've kinda narrowed things down to 3 simple child-like steps.

1. Avoid placing the blame. The whole point of apologizing is that you are acknowledging that you did something wrong. The sincerity of your apology kinda goes to the wind when you say things, "I'm sorry you feel that way." Be real. You said or did something to hurt that person and that is on you. Granted, no one can MAKE anyone feel a certain way, but emotions aren't the simple. So buck up. "I'm sorry I made you feel that way." Own it.

2. When being apologized to, just try saying "I'm sorry too." We all know that when we fight with friend we say things we don't mean. In the heat of the moment your only goal is to cut the other person deeper than they are cutting you. So regardless if you started the whole crap storm or not, the other person feels violated in some sort of way. Just apologize (like when we were kids). Sometimes it's a better way to accept an apology than actually saying the words, "I accept your apology." It helps with closure. Trust me.

3. Go play Hot Lava on the playground. And by that I mean, let it go and forget it ever happened. Chances are, neither of you is really sure how the whole thing came about anyway. You both apologized, is there really anything else left to say? Just both be over it and be done with it.

Let's take the art of apologizing back to when we were kids.

Friday, April 17, 2015

My Two Cents: Shamming the "Mom-Trepeneur"

I wasn't planning on doing another "My Two Cents" post for a while, but I just had to jump in on this one.

I recently came across a blog post on Scary Mommy titled 3-D Lashes, Jamberry & Oter Ways to Lose Facebook Friend. Long story short, it is the newest way for girls to bash women who are just living their own damn lives.

Hi, my name is Maureen. I am a Marine veteran, a full time student, a stay at home mom, a MST advocate, running a homestead... Oh yeah, and I'm in direct sales.

I am totally not a sales person. Actually, I'm pretty shy in certain situations. I mean, I don't even like to order a pizza over the phone. If I can't do it online, I make my husband call. So why in my right mind would I get into something where I have to actually put myself out there? Family.

Garrack works an exceptionally demanding job. My father says, "He's the hardest working SOB I know." It is not uncommon for him to work 100+ hours in a week. So far, his record for overtime is nearly 300 hours. He works all over New England and does a lot of travel for work. During the exceptionally busy months he will be away from home weeks at a time. Weekends and holidays don't keep him at home either. But, as the main source of income for our family (which allows me to go to school full time) he doesn't complain about the steady work.

About a year ago I decided to try my hand at direct sales so that, just maybe, Garrack could cut back on a few hours each week. The hope being that he could then spend more time with his daughter (even if it was just enough time to put her to bed an extra night each week).

I posted on my Facebook about my endeavor and did all the things the woman in the afore mentioned blog post hates. I made a group that I invited people too (mostly just close friends and family), I posted on my page (just once in a while), and I direct messaged folks asking if they would like to host a party. And ya know what? No. Body. Bitched.

Social media is a staple in just about everyone's life now-a-days. And smart business people see that. Anyone who watches Shark Tank has heard entrepreneurs talk about how they built up their sales through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram without the expense of ads.

And besides, I for one am a huge supporter of local and small business. And though these companies are worth millions, you are still supporting a family run business. I would rather buy a Scentsy warmer and help a mom pay for her car this month so she can take her kids to school than get a Yankee Candle which only benefits the CEO of Yankee Candle (but that's just me).

Sales aside, social media is SOCIAL! Or have we forgotten that? How anyone uses it is up to them. As I've read someone else point out, some folks use it as a way to stay up on current events, some use it as a photo album, and yes, some use it as a way to sell product.

If you don't want to use your social outlets in that way, then don't friend, don't follow, don't subscribe, and don't buy. Remove yourself from the groups (and there is an option after leaving the group to disable anyone to add you again).

"Oh, but I just don't like being in those high pressure sales situations." If you can't say no, I feel bad for you. It must be hard to never say no to a car salesman, or a kiosk worker at the mall who wants you to try this amazing hair straightener, or the cashier at McDonalds who asks if you want to try their newest burger.

Simply, if a friend of yours adds you to their sales group they aren't looking to exploit you, they are looking for support (which you can give without being in their group or hosting a party). Not monetary support, but the kind of support that lets them know that you see they are trying to bring an income into their home and that is something everyone should be able to understand (because, dude, #thestruggleisreal).

Get off you damn high horse.

THIS is why I do direct sales. Deal with it.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mother's Day 2015 - Gifts for every kind of mom

Don't get me wrong. Anything most moms want on Mother's Day is breakfast, a card, flowers, and a little time for themselves for the day. That alone makes for an AWESOME day (let me get an "amen"!). But, if are are looking for something a little more unique to add into the mix, here are a few ideas that I think are super cool and unique.

For the Gardener

Grow Oya
Starting at $28.95
These watering pots are made out of terracotta clay and are very porous. This allows for the pot to be buried with your plants and water them when they need it most! You just fill the pot every 7-10 days. It also helps to conserve up to 70% water by avoiding overwatering, runoff, and evaporation. Grow Oya comes in 3 sizes (for patio pots, raised beds, and large gardening). As of now, their personal store is not up running, but you can still purchase here.


Fisher Blacksmithing
Starting at $28
I LOVE hand made items. They tend to be better quality and longer lasting than your mass produced stuff. Plus, each piece is unique. For those reasons you should definitely check out Fisher Blacksmithing and their hand forged gardening tools (I totally want a set). These guys do things the old fashioned blacksmith way. With the hammer and the anvil and the fire and all that good stuff. Now, don't get me wrong, the stuff is pricey (most pieces are in the $50 range), but the quality is worth it for any serious gardener.


For the Traveler

Lay-N-Go cosmo bag
Starting at $29.95
Traveling as a chick is a pain in the butt. The makeup alone is a hassle. Trying to stuff what you can into a small enough bag that it won't take up too much room in your carry on. That's just the start of it. But the cosmo bag from Lay-N-Go is simple genius! It's one of those "why didn't I think of that" tools you'll wish you had sooner. Put the makeup in, draw string it up, and go. Then, when you need your makeup, lay it on a counter and open and it is all right there. The bag comes in two sizes (and they have other bags for things like Legos).


Handbag Handcuff
No more losing your bag while driving, having it take up room in your shopping cart, or putting it on the dirty floor of a restaurant. The Handbag Handcuff allows you to hook your bag onto anything to avoid losing it or having it slide out of your grasp. Sleek and simple designs makes it the perfect accessory for your purse. You can even use it on your shopping trips to hold multiple bags!

For the Makeup Artist

Starting at $35
Cleaning makeup brushes is important to keep them working well and to save your skin from any nasty bacteria. This textured glove, with areas for cleaning eye and face brushes, allows you to to clean your brushes quickly and thoroughly with little cleaning solution.


Never struggle with the TSA and your favorite perfume again! The sen7 allows you easy travel and use of your favorite scent.


For the Workout Wiz

Starting at $69
Super stylish and very cute, these bags are not without great function. Choose the "home-gym-home" bag with pockets for glasses, ear buds (with no tangle strap), yoga mat, and more. Or, go with the "home-gym-work" bag to organize your dirty laundry, toiletries, and it even has a pocket for your shoes.


Starting at $19.95
When running, walking, or cycling outdoors at low light hours, safety is very important. If you really want to ensure that drivers see where you are when out on the road, light yourself up! 4id has created running lights that you can put on the heels of your shoes, around your arms, or on your bike. They are even waterproof and come in different colors.


For the Stylish Mama

Loved by Hannah and Eli
Starting at $35
A fantastic t-shirt company owned and operated by a mama of two, Loved by Hannah and Eli makes the cutest clothing for every member of the family. Their "Bear collection" is the most popular with several celebrities even being spotted in their tops. Every Mama Bear is gonna want one of these.


Twinkle Twinkle lil' Jar
Starting at $15
Put some sparkle in your life! You'll want one... Ok, maybe two of everything. Personalized wine glasses, mason jar tumblers, water bottles, coffee mugs, and travel mugs dipped in... are you ready for it... GLITTER!!!!!!! All BPA free and dipped by hand. This shop is absolutely fantastic. They even have stuff for your little mini me (I had them make a special mason jar tumbler just for Arlette).


For the Zen Lady

Starting at $19.95
Doing yoga outside is a great way to ground yourself and connect to the world around you. Now, with YogaPaws, you don't need to worry about having a yoga mat with you to perform your stretches and flows. These gloves and socks have everything you need in a mat but compact and easy for travel.


There is no better way to describe this little piece than what their website says,
"Each lokai is infused with elements from the highest and lowest points on Earth. The bracelet’s white bead carries water from Mt. Everest, and its black bead contains mud from the Dead Sea. These extreme elements are a reminder to the wearer to live a balanced life – staying humble during life’s peaks and hopeful during its lows."
 Super cool right?! Plus, 10% of each bracelet sold goes to the company's charity partners.


For the Mom Who LOVES Surprises

Diamond Candles
These soy candles come in a wide array of delicious scents. But the best part is the surprise ring inside. Each ring is valued at $10, $100, $1000, or $5000! Even if you aren't one of the big winners, the rings are lovely. Plus, the suspense of waiting for the candle to melt far enough to get the ring is tons of fun.


Silver Scents
Every mom deserves some alone time. Even if it's just long enough to get in a nice soak in the bath. Make that time even more relaxing with some Silver Scents. She'll enjoy the benefits of epsom salts and essential oils AND get a beautiful piece of sterling silver jewelry.


Hope this helps in finding just the right gift for your mom this year.