Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Frijoles Ranch

About forty five minutes south of Carlsbad lies the Guadalupe National Park. It is home to numerous trails, wildlife, and some of the most contrasting landscapes within a close proximity that I have ever seen. We began our hike at the Frijoles Ranch, at the base of the Guadalupe Peak foothills.

The trail head winds through desert brush, cacti, and shrubs. It is rocky in places, but the slope is gradual and good for hikers of all levels. 

You will want to bring adequate water, sunscreen, and a hat.

Manzanitas are among my favorite trees. They have red smooth bark and their twisty shapes mimic drift wood.

They are also fun to swing on.

Still swinging.

Halfway up the trail, we entered this old forest. The trees are just beginning to bud, even so, the density of the forest created welcoming shade from the midday sun. 

Water from a spring trickled along the forest floor, aiding to the contrast of the harsh desert that we had just crossed.

The kids were begging to dip into this pool, and felt sorry for themselves when I wouldn't allow it. The sign clearly says not to leave the path.

Somehow, this one's feet ended up getting wet anyway.

This is where desert and forest converge.

We did break away from the trail to sniff the bark of a ponderosa pine; it smells like vanilla.

This is Manzanita Spring. It was used by the settlers of Frijoles Ranch for crops and cattle.

The old ranch house has been converted into a museum. Not only is it surrounded by breath taking views, it also has a small irrigation ditch that flows from another spring around the property. The kids had a hard time staying out of this one too.

The spring on the property is housed in this small building were the water flows freely down its course. 

My favorite building on the ranch is this small school house. One side of this building was the classroom, the other side was the teacher's living quarters. She had eight pupils and in payment for her services, she received a horse, room and board, and thirty dollars a month.

How eight students and one teacher were able to fit in this space is beyond me. People must have been smaller back then.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An Eggseptional Tree

The complaint, "There is nothing to do in this town," is a common one. I always find something to do. In fact, my list of projects is never ending and it doesn't help that I am one of those people who start something, and then half way through, start something else. I have project ADD. I am still working on building that chicken coop, however, all the thought of chickens and eggs brought to mind Easter decorating. A visit to a scrap-booking store provided all the inspiration I needed to create this project:

My crafting method is not a pretty sight. Someday, I will have a craft-room complete with all those neat little cubbies with everything labeled and organized. For now, I have a kitchen table.

Supplies are simple. You'll need some plastic eggs, glue, old sheet music, and vintage sewing trims, i.e. lace, buttons, etc.  Decoupage plastic eggs with torn pieces of sheet music.

Once the egg has dried, you should end up with this.

As an avid garage saler and hoarder of vintage things, I have a collection of old sewing odds and ends. I used scraps of lace, buttons, and scrap-booking paper that has been cut using one of those cricket cutting machines.

Add trim or lace.

Next, add your paper pieces.

Embellish with vintage buttons. Oooh la la!

I finished the tops by gluing a loop of rick rack and covering the ends with a button so that the eggs can be hung from a tree.

This is the base of the branch I will use to hang the eggs. I used quickcrete and cemented the branch into the pot for stability.

I may have to trim this branch a bit--looks like I may have gotten carried away.

Design options are limitless.

I know, I really should be outside cutting wood for that coop, but this is so much fun!

And let's not forget what this holiday is really about.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Build a Chicken Coop - Complete DIY chicken coop Tutorial

I have always wanted to try my hand at raising chickens. I have read numerous books, magazine articles, online articles, and I have come to the conclusion that the best way to truly learn something is to do it.

With limited carpentry skills and some scrap lumber, I have finally settled on this design for my coop. I plan to make several modifications; for one, I'm concerned that this design does not have adequate ventilation. Two: this design does not feature a place to roost, but I'm sure I can easily fix that. I hope to post pictures of the completed project within the next couple of days.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Unwrapping Gifts

What is it about opening gifts that we love so much? Is it the suspense of discovering what hides within the box? Is it the hope of getting that which we have waited so long to receive? Or is it simply that we like getting new things? Well, some of us like new things.

I love old things, especially when they have been passed down from my family. That's why it was of special importance to me when my mother, who got the OK from her mother, informed me that I could unwrap my great-grandmother's china and crystal.

This is what I dug out of the shed.

Two dirty boxes, encased in time and dust, and waiting to be opened... Are you feeling the anticipation?

Go ahead, take a moment.

By the way, the box that says HOMO--it means homogenized milk--we're not that kind of family.

The china has been put away for so long, I can't even remember what it looks like.

Ok, ok, I'm opening the box--sheesh, talk about impatient.

This is the pile of rags, that wrapped the contents of the box, that I already opened and saw, that you are still waiting to see. Hah!

That's just wrong isn't it?

Ok, I'll stop being mean now.

There are four different sizes of crystal glasses, each etched with a delicate filigree of roses. I have never dined at a table set with four glasses, but I know that there was a time when this was standard.

The china set includes serving pieces, and I begin to imagine how they might all be used.

At the end of my unwrapping, I am posed with this thought: If we still took the time to set a table with ornament like this, would we then be inclined to prepare a good meal to go with it? And if we had taken the time to set a lovely table and cook a meal worth using our best china, would we spend more time selecting the company to share this special meal with? And in combination with our good food and good friends, would some of our tension and daily stresses of a hurried life begin to fade over laughter and a flowing glass of wine?

I stand back and admire the china and crystal that has finally found its way out of the box and into the hutch that my father made. It reminds me of a time when the world moved at a slower pace, when people   sat down and shared meals together, even if it meant washing four glasses for each guest.