Saturday, January 30, 2010

Update: Bad News

After a ton of phone calls and number crunching, RNH and I found out that we cannot purchase the land. Why? Because we don't have $44,000 in cash. Yup!

We were hoping to refinance the home and roll the new acreage into the loan. Apparently its not that simple. This is why.
If RNH and I got into financial trouble, the first thing we'd default on is the land. There is not a building on the property, making the land not very valuable to a bank. This is considered a high-risk loan because the bank would also loose out if we had to fold it all in. Because of the risk, the bank is asking that we put at least 20% down on the loan. That is a little over $44,000. Nope. Sorry, we don't have it.

We can easily afford the extra mortgage payments, but unfortunately they want money down. At the rate RNH and I are saving, we could afford to purchase the land in 9 years. We are also planning on bumping up the amount we save each month, so maybe we could decrease the amount of time needed to come up with the cash.

Despite the disappointing news, RNH and I are so blessed to have what we already have. The land we're trying to purchase, isn't even for sale! We've got a wonderful home, all the pets we could ask for, tons of land, endless opportunities and each other. That is the most important thing to us. God has blessed us with more than we both ever thought was possible. I thank Him every day for blessing me with a husband that loves Him as much as I do, and for surrounding me with His nature so I can see His goodness every day. I'm blessed beyond belief!

Beauty


How can something so beautiful be such a pain in the rear???

I was on the phone the other day, on a "business" call, walking around in the yard. Roo popped up out of no-where and pecked me in the back of my leg. I then had to kindly explain why I was yelping. I'm not sure what the person on the other end was more shocked at, my screaming or the fact that I had just been attacked by a rooster!

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Redneck Bathroom

For Christmas, RNH and I received an awesome gift- a finished bathroom (and some!) Our camouflaged bathroom is finally complete thanks to my mom and sister! The even better thing- we also got another shower curtain (I love them both and couldn't decide which one I liked better!) that has Labrador puppies all over it! I'm thinking when we get tired of the camo, or the John Deere in the master bath, we will use the puppy shower curtain instead. Decisions! Decisions!

We got matching towels for Christmas too!A duck stamp tin sign, with a duck stamp from our first year in the house and duck feathers from the first duck RNH shot! I have a really neat picture of him holding two ducks up, but I have to get it printed!And the lab puppy accessories that go with our camo-theme, and the lab puppy shower curtain that we'll eventually use! TOO cute!Yes, these are Redhead bath accessories!!!Classy Camo- if there even is such a thing!!! Now this is Redneck!!!

Old Stone Winery- Velvet Red and Wild Horse

This wine is good, but gets even better when you let it breathe. Old Stone Vineyard is awesome, and I love the label. During our visit they told us that they are going to almost a more "mature" look with their wine labels. They're still sticking with the running horse, but it has a more polished look. I would buy this wine just because of the label!
The Velvet Red is a delicious blend of the darker muscadines. The wine gets its color because it sits on the grape hulls. This wine is deliciously sweet!

The Wild Horse (I love the name!) is also a delicious blend of the bronze and black muscadines. This is one of my favorites because it is not too sweet and not too dry!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Le Jardin

I'm pretty obsessed with my garden this year (if you couldn't tell) and I'm almost getting depressed because of this weather. I'm so ready to get out there. I can't even till up the dang garden yet because the ground is too wet, and its supposed to snow tomorrow. Yeah... snow. In North Carolina??? Yeah. Ugh. Well, even the Farmer's Almanac said we'd have a much colder winter with more snow than usual. Great. Just my luck!

Anyways, to curb my winter depression, I've been planning and gathering all of my necessary items. I also mapped out my garden and put stakes in the ground to mark the new land. I'm thinking this will make tilling much easier.

This is last year's garden. Small and manageable. I had to hand-plow all of what you see. That is not easy. Back-breaking work. I did very well with weeding and keeping track of harvesting. The garden went very well, despite the fact that I was getting married. The month that I was supposed to plant, was the same month that I was getting married and going on a honeymoon. I had to wait a whole month later to plant. That meant that I was behind. Far behind. Even though that was a problem, everything went well except for the pumpkins and cantaloupe. They failed. I'm not even going to attempt them this year. Everything I am growing should be pretty self-reliant. The tomatoes I might have to keep a real good eye on. We'll see!
This is the area that I have to work with this year. 1,000 square feet! As I said, I've staked out the garden and even put some twine up to see how big the space really will be. Ummm... its gonna be huge! YES!

Gaaaah, can't we get this winter over with already!??!?!

The Not-So-Wild Wild Life Cam

I bought RNH a wildlife game camera for his birthday last month. He was pretty excited to get it, and I was excited to give it to him. We only spend about $100 on each other for our birthdays, so I didn't have much to work with when it comes to buying these expensive things. They're usually priced at $100 and up. I did a lot of research based on on-line reviews for different cameras that were in my price range. And I also waited for the best one, in my price range, to go on sale. I was pretty proud of all of the research did and was confident in my purchase.
Well, RNH has put the camera out near the chicken coop, where he feeds the deer year-round. He puts down corn, apples and a salt lick for them on a regular basis. We got excited every night for a week after his birthday, but each morning- disappointment. But- we think we've figured out why.
Before leaving for work one night, I had to close up the chicken coop. I went out there in my work clothes and began to do my normal routine, when all of a sudden ***FLASH*** I was blinded by the camera. Not just "blinded," but seriously blinded for several minutes. And after that I was seeing spots!

We think the ginormous flash is scaring off the deer. We did get a deer-butt. But nothing showing us what is really out there. We see monster deer prints on a regular basis, we just don't know how big these suckers are!
We're trying to move the camera around on several different trees to see what angles will work the best and catch the deer off-guard before they can escape the camera's view. We also found a pretty regular "poo" spot for some sort of animal. We're thinking we'd like to try there next! Who knows what we'll find! I just hope we get something!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Update: The Louisiana Purchase

No, we're not purchasing Louisiana. Duh! I mentioned earlier that RNH and I were hoping to purchase an additional 26.81 acres to our 5 acres that we already own. The acreage is right next to our current property. We use the land as if it is ours, but we'd prefer to "own" it before we start doing things to it (like cutting timber to make a field....!!!) or else we could get in trouble!

Anyways, the seller is asking $3150 an acre, but he said he's willing to work with us if we purchase the entire acreage. Well that is exactly what we want to do. We inquired back in October and realized that we would only be able to afford a counter offer of $2600. That is pretty low-balling and we decided to just wait.

In just a short amount of time, RNH and I have really kicked the savings into high-gear. Not for a down payment, but for a personal family cushion. In the next 9 months, we will have a wonderful cushion to sit on, and RNH will have his credit card completely paid off. No debt. Zero. Except for the mortgage. We are thinking that come September, we will be ready to put in our low-ball offer.

I'm sure the seller will counter-offer, but hopefully with the mid-range and it that will be something we can comfortably afford. I am also thinking that in the next few months, we should begin paying ourselves what our new mortgage would be to make sure we don't mind living that type of lifestyle.

We are dying to have this land. We feel that God has blessed us tremendously with what he has given us already, and if its in His Will, the land purchase will work out! Pray for us please!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Can We Say We Live On A Farm Now?

RNH wants to get ducks. Yes, ducks. And yes, RNH wants the animal this time- not me!!!

RNH is planning on purchasing a few Rouen ducklings this spring. Rouens are domesticated Mallards that are about twice the size of a regular wild mallard. Since they are so heavy, they do not fly. RNH is planning on purchasing the ducklings and placing them at the pond. This will help attract wild ducks to the pond for hunting.


I'm beyond excited about this!!!
These are the only problems I see:
The pond is sorta far from the house. The chicken coop is about a half a football field away from my back door, and going out there all the time is kind of a pain in the butt. And then to have ducks all the way down at the pond, I'm not sure they will be easy to take care of. However if RNH plans on planting millet, they will eat that. They also probably won't need constant watering because they've got the pond. Not sure about this- we'll need to do some research. We'll also need to feed them regular waterfowl feed, but like I said, it will be hard to go down there everyday if that is what they require.
We're raising a duck dog. I've been trying to train him more and more to retrieve ducks. We're still working on hard ground since he's still young and the pond was frozen over just last week! But if we have ducks that live at the pond, he might not know the difference and want to retrieve them as well! Right now I'm having a hard enough time trying to teach him not to go after mommy's chickens!!!
Ducks lay eggs just like any other bird- will this be a big deal if our ducks reproduce? How many ducks is too many? How many ducks are we even going to purchase?
Anyways- I'm just super excited about getting a duckling. They are SO cute and SO fun! Plus it will be fun having ducks on the pond year-round. I hope this is something we actually follow through on!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

We're Tillerific!!!

Yes, RNH and I bought a tiller. After hours and hours of online research, I finally decided to go for the Yard Machine, sold at Home Depot.

We purchased the Yard Machine 208 cc Rear Tine Tiller that has 12" long tines and 18" tilling width!

Yes, it was $650, but totally worth it. Why am I not renting one instead? Here is the dealio: I'm going to be tilling the land up at least 4 times a year. Once in February to prime the soil, put fertilizer down, compost, etc to get the garden ready for Spring. Then again in spring to loosen it up for planting. I will then till under the spent vegetables, unless I've placed them in my compost pile, and more than likely plant a small winter garden, or rye or wheat grass to put nutrients back into the soil for the next growing season. I will also use the tiller to expand the rose bed and gardenia bed that I have surrounding the deck.

RNH wants to use the tiller in the woods to start a food plot for turkey. He also plans to grow some millet around the pond to attract wild ducks. He is ultimately planning on re-seeding the entire front lawn to make it look nice. Right now we have a "country" yard, meaning we don't do a dang thing to it. RNH wants at least a nice front yard, with a country yard in the back. Kinda like a mullet- business in the front, party in the back!

Anyways- I think we'll get a lot of use out of it. As soon as we brought it home I was out there trying to till up the garden. It had been raining for quite some time, so of course it was just a huge sloppy mess and I couldn't really till anything. There was a few feet of drier soil where I could see what the tiller will do- it is gonna be awesome!!! I'm just praying that the rain stops for a little bit so it will dry out and I can use this new machine. Currently as I'm typing- its raining. Grrr!

The best thing about finally owning a tiller- not having to wait for my drunk neighbor to sober up and come over with the tractor!!! I'm planting ON TIME this year!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Buck Shoals Vineyards- Bryan's Legacy

The trip to the vineyard wasn't that great, but this wine could create a legacy for the Yadkin Valley winery.

Bryan's Legacy is a delicious blend of white grapes. Sweet, but not too sweet. It is a great table wine that would be a perfect pairing with fruits or seafood.
If you happen to stumble upon this winery by accident, pick up a bottle of this. Otherwise, there's not much else going for the place!

Duplin Vineyards- Almond Champagne

I'm a sucker for anything Almond flavored. Duplin's Almond Champagne just put me right over the top. Literally. This stuff is heaven in a glass!
Too bad the only place I've seen this bottle sold is in the winery itself! (Which I will review later.) Seriously, if you see this stuff, pick up a bottle- and one for me too! :)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Garden Excitement

I'm sure I'm driving all of my friends nuts. This spring I am going full-tilt into gardening. This will be the first year *fingers crossed* when I can devote a majority of my off-time to gardening. The first year I could even have a garden, we were moving into the house. The second year, I was having to plan a wedding and get married. This year, we have nada. Nothing.

Gardening is all I talk about. I even went so far as to start a gardening journal. I think it will really help my endeavors. I started off by listing each vegetable that I would like to grow, how much I paid for seeds last year, what date it was planted, how fruitful the yield was, etc. Keeping track of this will allow me to maximize my production in the garden.

I also googled "home gardening, North Carolina" and ended up with boat-loads of information from my Alma mater, NC State University. Duh- why didn't I ever think of that! The college has a very vast horticultural program and is basically known for farming. I found a ton of on-line articles about tons of vegetables and information on growing them specifically in NC. Even so far as to what region of NC I am in. Pretty neat. And of course I recorded all of these tips and tidbits of info in my handy-dandy journal!

I got pretty excited about everything and decided to mark off my garden space. This year it will be 24 x 48 feet. Yes, that is over 1,000 square feet. YIKES!!! I found an NCSU article that planned out at garden, complete with diagram of where each vegetable should be planted according to the cardinal directions. It was a 1,000 square foot garden and the note underneath the diagram stated that "a garden of this size will take approximately 30 minutes of work a day." Ha- we'll see about that!

I am also going to attempt to grow everything by seed (except tomatoes) and start them indoors. I've got my south-facing window ready with trays and seed-starting medium. All of this material is just staring at me as I'm typing. Beckoning me to get dirt under my finger nails!!!

February I begin to sow the eggplant and onions indoors. Only a few weeks away- YES!

I am also hoping to plant smart this year. For example, instead of planting all of my rows of corn at the same time, plant them 2 weeks apart so the yield is steadily flowing in. Hopefully that will work!

I'm still working on my compost, which is full of chicken poo. Yum! I tested our soil and we've got a great 6.0 pH, which is perfect for veggie growing!

To add to all of the excitement, RNH and I purchased a tiller!!! That big purchase deserves a post of its own!!! I love that baby!

Today I dug up these bulbs that I had planted right outside the deck last year. I think they are gladiolas? I hate them. They were a beautiful white flower, but as soon as they bloomed, they fell over. I'm sorry but if you're not producing anything I can eat, you better be able to handle yourself on your own. I'm not going to be spending my time pinning you back and helping you stand up straight. So I dug these suckers up and tossed them. I needed the space for the herb garden I'm also planning on having. It is a small 2 by 4 foot space that will be right outside the kitchen for maximum accessibility!

Here is a list of what I'm growing this year!
Silver Queen Sweet Corn
Clemson Spineless Okra
Green Goliath Broccoli
Marketmore 76 Cucumber
Burpee Hybrid II Cucumber
Summer Squash
Black Beauty Zucchini
Black Beauty Eggplant
Kentucky Blue Pole Beans
Bush Blue Lake 156 Beans
Aztec Gold Sunflowers
Sweet Onion
Roma Tomatoes
Better Boy Tomatoes

Cilantro
Sweet Basil
Mammoth Dill
Flat Leaf Parsley
Rosemary

Who's coming over to eat?!?!

Goodies

RNH's birthday was a week ago. I wanted to make it special for him so I started out the day with some home-made cinnamon rolls. My wonderful mother-in-law let me borrow her bread machine to see if I'd want one of my own. (It is a fun thing to have for a month or so, and then you won't use it again!) Using the machine I created a cinnamon roll dough and made the scrumptious goodies the next day. RNH isn't a huge fan of cinnamon rolls but he loved these!!! Next time we have an overnight guest at the house, they will get this treat!!!


I also tried my hand at making an ice cream cake. Ice cream cakes are RNH's favorite. I used 2 9" pans and made a Chocolate Devils Food cake. In between the two layers I lathered on Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream and then frosted the entire thing over with cool whip and sprinkled crushed peanut butter cups on the top.
I think it looked better than it tasted. I think I'm just a sucker for cake with sweet icing on the top. This was good, just not as good as the old fashioned birthday cake!!!

Curtain Dilemma

I don't have a ton of people up to the house that often, and I need help. So y'all will have to help me out.

I painted the kitchen doors that lead out to the deck this weekend. I didn't realize how badly these doors needed to be painted until I put the first paint stroke on. They were disgustingly dingy. No amount of cleaning would make these suckers white again. I also did the trim in the kitchen. I swear, it feels like the kitchen is brand new!!!

RNH and I go in and out of these kitchen doors several times a day. We also like to look out the windows of these doors very often. When we go away for the weekend, we'd prefer no one to be able to see inside our back doors. With all of this being said, I decided I wanted window treatments of some sort for the doors.

I ended up at Target (because drapes are somewhat reasonably priced there) and I know they have a red color of curtain that comes close to matching our paint. I ended up purchasing a set of curtains that were on clearance, $10, so its not that bad. But please tell me what you think. I'm not sure what to do!

As you can see, the color of red does not exactly match the paint. Unfortunately, it is the closest I have been able to find. Then, the major problem is that the curtains are too short!!! These curtains are 63 inches. The 84 inch curtains would be way too long. I thought about going that route and pinning them up, but since these are on clearance, the 84" weren't there.
Too short at the top.
And too short at the bottom. From further away, it doesn't look as bad, but this is something that I would probably look at every time I see the curtains. Ugh.
The semi-solution: Since RNH and I love to look out the windows and into the backyard, we would usually have the curtains put up. I just drape them onto each other and get them out of the way. The only time the curtains would be down is when we are out of town (so I won't be around to judge them every time I walk by!) Or on summer mornings when the eastern sun is just too hot.
Anyways- what do you think? If it is terrible, I'd only be out $10, so no biggie. But I'm stuck as to how to create window treatments for these doors!!! And P.S. - I don't like blinds on doors. Thanks! :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Scared Silly

RNH and I are back from our Wilmington/ Southern Pines Holiday trip. It was a blast, so I'll talk about that later. Also tomorrow RNH turns 31... YIIKES! And we're working because we forgot to look and take the day off. Oops!

Okay.

Today we have a friend and his two large dogs over to romp around in the woods with Drake. I know he is coming, so I try to plan ahead (since I didn't last time!) and put the chickens up in the coop before he gets there. The chickens have complete freedom to go anywhere they choose, including the front yard near the busy street (maybe they're trying to cross the road?) and into neighbor's yards. But whatever. I can't just call them back to their coop and put them up. They come in at nightfall, which so far hasn't been a problem.

Today I decide to try and entice the chickens back to the coop with a little hard boiled egg. Yes, weird, but chickens like to eat eggs. So the first chicken I see is Roo. I walk up to him with a piece of egg in my hand and calmly ask him if he wants some egg. He quickly begins walking sideways, staring at me the entire time and then ruffles up his feathers. I immediately realize that he is going to charge at me. I have no defense other than my boiled egg. But I can't sacrifice the egg.

Thankfully I had just got home from the gym and had my running shoes on. That damn rooster chased me at least the length of a football field. And I'm not talking about a straight run. I'm talking about through the garden, around the back of the shed, down the hill into the mud, through the tall grass and then back up the hill towards the pear tree and up to the deck. He is flapping his wings and running after me the entire time. And he is right on my heels. I make it safely onto the deck and run into the house. Roo never came up onto the deck but he was waiting right there at the bottom of the steps.

I am sucking wind and my adrenaline is pumping. All from a .rooster. I can't believe what had just happened. I am TOTALLY embarrassed. RNH had gone to Southern States to pick up some feed real quick and wasn't home. He had been telling me how the rooster had been charging him lately, but I just laughed it off. Roo and I have a special relationship where we hang out in the garden together. Well, not anymore.

I guess this gives an entirely new meaning to "chicken sh*t."
And now I can't even go into my backyard without wielding a stick. Ugh.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Silver Coast- Holiday Red

RNH and I saved this bottle from our beach trip in September to open up on Christmas Day. It was going to be our special wine. We had such great times and fun memories from that beach trip, that we figured the bottle would be a special memento.
We opened the bottle on Christmas Day and we were surprised. The wine was not half as good as we remembered it to be. I'm not sure if it wasn't sealed correctly, or if the wine just deteriorated over time, but I recalled the wine having strong notes of spices like cinnamon that make you automatically think of Christmas. This wine was a tad dry with a hint of sweetness, but nothing like the mulled spice taste I expected.

I think we were pretty intoxicated by the time we tasted this wine and it resulted in a poor decision. Not my all-time favorite, but don't take my word for it. Give it a shot!

Kabin Fever

It has been crazy cold in the Southeast, and that has limited time outdoors. RNH and I have given up on duck hunting for the week because all of the water is iced over. We feel like we've been cooped up in the house. He's been playing video games and I've been watching TV. We've been making trips out to go to work and the gym, but thats about it. We finally decided that we've got Kabin Fever. Yup, we've planned another trip!

This time we're going to the KOA in Wilmington. I mean, come on... you can't beat $30 a night! They even have a doggie park with a big agility course set up. I'm dying to take Drake on it! The beach is doggie friendly right now during the off season, and there won't be a flood of tourists in the area. We're really excited.

After Wilmington, we're heading to the land of the pines, RNH's hometown. We haven't had our Christmas with his side of the family yet, so we're going to do that. We're also taking his mom to Cypress Bend Winery in Wagram, NC. I'm actually really excited about seeing his grandma and "talking chickens" with her!!! Can't wait for our winter beach excursion!

(We've also already booked our week-long trip to the beach in May. We're heading to the same place we went 2 years ago in Cherry Grove. Can't WAIT!!!)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Old Stone Vineyard, Salisbury NC

RNH and I decided to check out a vineyard on our way to have an early Christmas with my mom in Charlotte. Since we'd be traveling south on I-85, we figured a vineyard 5 miles off the highway would do just fine. With a puppy in-tow, we drove to the town of Granite Quarry, North Carolina and looked for a vineyard.

I was surprised to not find a vineyard, but a winery. I thought in a small town, there would be fields upon fields of grapes. Nope- not this time. Just a regular old store front. Cute, but not what I was expecting, and I'll admit- I was disappointed.
Once I stepped inside I saw a tasting bar and rows and rows of wine. RNH and I stepped up for a tasting. $10 for a full tasting and you get to keep the glass. Now we're talking!

RNH and I had an awesome wine host. Turns out he was actually the winery's "wine maker." Seriously. He knew everything there was to know about wine. I learned a ton and he seemed very eager to share his knowledge. RNH and I kept sipping and listening. By the time we were done we were the ones doing the talking, and kept repeating ourselves... "Y'all need to bring this up to the triangle area... blah blah blah." We left there feeling like we made a new friend, and broke the bank on a half case of wine. Tipsy or not, the wine this winery makes is phenomenal. They're not a huge winery, and not sold all over North Carolina, but we really wish they were! I highly recommend stopping in for a tasting, or even just grabbing a bottle to go. They're all excellent!

It also helped that this place was dog-friendly and let us walk Drake in the few rows of vines that they had. Drake loved his first winery!

After the winery we decided, instead of getting back on I-85 south, we'd hang out in the small town of Salisbury. RNH's dad finished up his college there and RNH wanted to eat the hot dog stand he and his dad ate at when he was a kid. We tried, but it turns out "Al's Nighthawk," was now a laundry mat. Instead we ate at a hot dog counter, "Happs." One of the best hot dogs I've ever had because of the chili- really, REALLY good chili!!! There isn't any sitting room so we had to eat outside. We also had to wait in line, and they were sold out of hamburgers! I highly suggest this place to anyone that is stopping through the small town!

The other great thing: Happs' had diet Cheerwine... in a bottle. I'm sure everyone would agree, sodas taste so much better out of a bottle! And Cheerwine was actually born in Salisbury, NC! It was a perfect combination- hot dogs and Cheerwine!

For those of you that aren't from the Carolinas, more than likely, you've never had Cheerwine and may have never even heard of it. It is a cherry drink, somewhat like Dr. Pepper, only more cherry-ish and much more carbonated than other sodas. It is DELISH!!!

Cheerwine was founded in 1917 by Carolina Beverage Coporation!!!