You Are My Sunshine

Natures Botanical Gardens, Spring Hill, Florida. Photo courtesy of Jen Carter Photography.

My Only Sunshine

Natures Botanical Gardens, Spring Hill, Florida. Photo courtesy of Jen Carter Photography.

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19 September, 2015

A Whole New World.... What were we thinking???

We have been on the homestead for about two months now. It has been an adjustment on so many levels.

At our previous residence we enjoyed regular tv, unlimited long distance, and high speed internet. Out here we have satellite tv, I have a long distance plan that requires me to dial "1", and our high speed internet runs at a whopping SIX mps. And yes, every time it rains hard, the satellite goes in and out.

I'm a fairly lazy person and I hate being outside in the heat and bugs, so I made sure to take on as many animals as humanly possible as quickly as possible. The herd consists of five dogs, two cats, two horses, six turkeys, two ducks, five chickens and one adorable pot bellied pig. All of these animals must be fed or let out every morning, and some are more demanding about the feeding schedule than others. And the herd is growing. No matter WHAT my Husband tells you - or me.

I've also managed to buy a bazillion books and magazines. I should be proficient in maintaining a garden, raising livestock, horse care, and making bread and cheese shortly. If not, I have more reference books and magazines than I can possibly count at this point.

As for the house... I have a board. It was COVERED in ideas for the remodel. After the first month of no cable, I was able to narrow it down, but only because I had stared at it for hours. And we chose our house paint by posting it on Facebook, because well, that's how all major decisions are made these days.

This has been a crazy summer. We have burned so many trees, trash, and other things - but it's been really neat to be able to have a big bonfire whenever we want.

Another thing that's seriously amazing is how much your relatives visit. I've had more visitors in the last two months than I EVER did at my other homes. I think people really enjoy just being able to "BE", if that makes any sense. It helps that it's absolutely beautiful out here. You don't even have to talk or entertain - which is great because I suck at both when it comes to playing hostess.

This has also been the summer of sweat, steroids, eczema, and chigger bites. It has been ungodly hot. I finally learned what "under boob sweat" is. I hate it. It took 37 years to learn about this female phenomenon, because this is the first time in my life I've taken steroids in this amount, and I have to expanding waist line to prove it - this also including an expanding bra size. I'd be happier about it if my muffin top wasn't keeping up with my boobs. I'm just sayin'....

I was also finally diagnosed with dishydrotic eczema. It only took 942 doctor visits for someone to finally say it. I have called every good Southern woman I know so see if she is aware of some moldy rotten something or other than I can put on it to heal it. Apparently NOBODY knows what causes this or how to cure it. So, seven rounds of steroids later, and a really good round of dog slobber, it seems to be getting better. I'm 15 pounds heavier, my face is now round instead of oblong, and I can eat like nobody's business, but I am not trying to remove all of the skin on my hands, and I don't look as much like I have some creeping funk like I did back in February. THANK. GOD.

Let's talk chiggers while I seem to be on a complaining rampage here.... We came to look at this property for the first time and I wore jeans and a tank top. We walked the property and checked out the house. I went home that evening and fell asleep on my couch. Chiggers suck. The SEVENTY TWO bites (and two tiny baby ticks) that I woke up with in my bikini line sucked even worse. "Chigger vagina" has become a running joke around here. I have since also had "chigger armpit", "chigger calf/thigh", "chigger buttocks", "chigger bra line" and "chigger armpit". AND, I nearly had a nervous breakdown in the shower after discovering my first BIG tick behind my knee. Luckily my husband was off and works in surgery and could remove it. (I know you don't have to work in surgery to remove a tick, but it sure made me feel better.)

Despite the fact that we need to finish the house, the animals are demanding, and I've spent most of the summer itching from one thing or another, I still walk out of my house and can't believe I really live here. I wouldn't trade this new chapter of my life for anything. I love the fact that I have new ways to bond with my daughter, and we're both getting our childhood dreams fulfilled.

Every day is a blessing and an adventure.
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25 May, 2015

Moving To The Country.....

It's that time again... We've grown restless in the city and we're ready to move. We decided that with our little one heading to middle school after a successful year of homeschooling, that we wanted to really make this move count. As luck would have it, an amazing opportunity has fallen into our laps and we're sitting on the verge of "go". In typical fashion, we do nothing without copious amounts of research.

So here's the deal. 5 acres. Let me say it again. FIVE ACRES. What's better than that? Five acres off a dirt road, outside of a small town that's I've heard mentioned for literally my entire life. I can remember as a small child in the car being drug to my father's latest dirt bike race, every time we passed that particular exit "Oh, I'd love to move there". Mom and dad never did move there, but I am.

Country life is something that's in my blood. My grandparents on my mother's side raised chickens, hogs, and cows. Grandma used to show her polish chickens at the fair - and give eggs to the doctors in town. Daddy had horses, and who knows what else. It's a goal of mine that I have a couple of those Polish chickens as an homage to those amazing people I never got to meet, but always heard how much they'd have loved me, and how I'd never have come home if they'd lived long enough.

Polish Chicken - Not my photo!
Of course the realization sets in that 5 acres is a lot of maintain, and a goal of ours would be to make this property work for us. Another goal would be to utilize the property for more self sustaining activities to eliminate as much dependence on the local grocery store - and hell, if we're going to spend money to eat healthy, we might as well raise it ourselves! (Note: Research if I can fit buffalo on 5 acres. THAT was an amazing hamburger!)

After HOURS and HOURS of research, here is our short term plan to convert our little piece of Heaven into one amazing home, and a way of life:

  • Garden 
  • Raising our own pork and show hogs (of COURSE 4H comes into play here!)
Hereford Hog - Not my photo!
Mulefoot Hog - Not my photo!
  • Raising our own eggs and meat birds
Cornish Cross for meat - Not my photo!
Ranger for meat - Not my photo!

Barred Rock for eggs - Not my photo!
Rhode Island Red for eggs - Not my photo!

  •  Raising turkeys for meat
Bourbon Red
 There are pros and cons to each breed and variety of animal, and likewise a purpose to each of them - not to mention the pens, feeding and care! Each breed is selected on the length of time to harvest, size, durability, and quality of meat.

I also wanted to stick with Heritage breed animals that are considered "critical"by the Livestock Conservancy. I fully believe doing our part to continue tradition and preserve certain breeds is so very important.

My initial goal is to get the hog pens built so the hogs have the opportunity to till, root, and fertilize enough area to put a garden in next Spring. The garden provides not only food for us, but for chickens and the hogs. The hogs provide pork, and literally, two hogs will feed us for the year. 

Chicken pens are easily constructed and provide eggs. Meat birds have a short lifespan. Literally 6-8 weeks for the Cornish Cross, and 10-12 weeks for the Rangers. Hello farm raised chicken, farm fresh eggs. I really can't imagine anything more hysterical than our first chicken processing line. I haven't plucked anything since I was little - which was a wild turkey my dad shot with a shotgun - as it was running away. 

We hope to be reformed city people by the end of August, so stay tuned! There's lots of exciting things taking place throughout the rest of the year. We'll be setting up our homestead and doing LOTS of diy remodeling on our home. I can't wait! We are literally marking off the days.

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14 January, 2015

Dear Twentysomethings, Here's Your Answers.....

I think I'm still inspired by my last post..... I'm really in shock the things that these twentysomethings ask. So, I've decided to answer all these questions for you.

1. So do I really NEED a 401(k)? 

Only if you want to retire and have any money to live on. Doesn't anyone in your generation watch the news? Or are you all still in the bars? Listen, there's rumors that Social Security is going to run out of money, and if you aren't old enough yet to watch your parents try to exist on Social Security alone, it's terrifying and heartbreaking. So, google it. I know you guys know how to do that. READ, RESEARCH, COMPARE, TALK TO PEOPLE WHO ARE SUCCESSFUL IN THIS AREA. There, you're welcome.

2. What’s the difference between a PPO and an HMO?

Again, here's more of that researching and reading thing we talked about in number 1. Read the information that comes with your insurance packet. It's all right there for you.

3. What number do I claim on my taxes?

TURN THE W-4 OVER. Now ask yourself, am I married? Do I have kids? How many? Add. Put this number on the appropriate line. You're welcome.

Once you fill this out and figure out the answer to number two, someone of you will want to consider a reliable birth control method also.

4. How the fuck do I cook rice? 

Read the fucking directions on the package genius.

5. So what do I do if my tire is flat?


And while you're at it, learn to check your oil and water.

6. But how long can I drive on a flat tire…?

You can't dumbass.


Because the electric companies have a monopoly on heat and air. And the price of fuel is insane. Watch the news every now and again. PS - Welcome to being a grown up.

8. How do I know if steak is medium rare and not going-to-get-salmonella rare?

If it's still jerking it's too rare. The end.

9. Is there any way I can appeal jury duty?

No. It's your civic duty. Welcome to America. Now shut up and show up. Have a nice day.

10. What happens if I don’t show up to jury duty?

Does the word "contempt" mean anything to your generation? If not, I'd google it.

11. How much do you think a dog/cat would cost?

It costs you having to come home and take it out before you go to the bar, and then coming home after to take it out again - and having to get up early to take it out again. Plus you have to feed it and shit.

You have to clean the litter box. I hated this in my 20's. I cleaned it as little as possible. That's not pretty. And you have to feed it and shit.

12. What do I bring to a dinner party?

Whatever the host/hostess tells you to bring. 

13. What do you mean not all doctors are covered by my insurance?

Again dumbass, read the information that comes with your packet. Your doctors are now conveniently listed somewhere on a website for your insurance company, or you can go old school and call the doctors and ask if they participate in your plan. 

Note: You'll have to actually call, on a phone, and talk to someone. 
14. How do I get a referral?

For a job? By being a good employee.

For a doctor? By going to the doctor and asking for one.
15. Can you read an email for me before I send it?

Really? Please tell me this is a joke.

16. Can you read a cover letter for me before I send it? 

Here's an inside tip for you: You can google these. Find a good one, model your cover letter after it. The end.

PS - CHECK YOUR GRAMMAR AND SPELLING. Nothing says "I'm a dumbass, don't hire me" like poor grammar and spelling.

17. What the fuck is a CV? 

If you don't know what this is, then you don't need to be applying for the job. The end.

18. I got in an accident what do I do?

Ask yourself: Am I injured? Yes? Call 911. No? Call 911, file a report with the local law enforcement, exchange information with the other driver, call your insurance company. Here in Florida you have 14 days to seek medical treatment if you are going to file a personal injury claim. Find a good PI lawyer. (Note: PI = Personal Injury) You're welcome.

19. How do you like…learn to cook?

Dear God.... Find a recipe. Buy all the stuff it tells you to buy. Follow the directions. If you like it, make it again. You can find recipes on the internet, Pinterest, the Cooking Channel, Food Network, cookbooks, your grandma's kitchen....

20. Should I get a cookbook or something?

Well, that would require you to like, read it or something.

21. Why doesn’t my chicken taste like your chicken?

Because you obviously suck at cooking. Just kidding. Nothing you'll make will ever taste like your mother's. It will always suck, and then one day it'll be better than hers - and you'll NEVER tell her this. SHE will tell you this someday far in the future, and you will thank her and then immediately tell her she's nuts because it could NEVER be better than hers, like EVER.

22. How do I renew my passport?

Learn to cook and define CV first before you go getting lost in a foreign country.

23. Do you have my passport? 

Listen, it's time to put on your grown up panties. Get a file, manila envelope, something, and put your birth certificate, passport, and any other important papers in it and keep them in a safe place, which for you is probably in your nightstand under your vibrator.

24. How do I get a visa?

Again, if you can't define CV then you aren't going to be doing anything that requires a Visa either.

25. How do I know if I have strep throat?

Because like all of us you will have a sore throat and you sit on your bathroom counter where the light hits your throat just right and you'll see if you have puss pockets on your throat. If you see white puss pockets, then yes, you probably have strep.

OR - you can also go to the doctor and have him run a q tip down your throat, like us grown ups do, and he'll tell you. That's why he's got that really expensive medical degree.

26. Can you look at a picture of my throat? 

Why does she need a picture? Just follow your umbilical cord back to her vagina, then ask her in person.

27. What’s that place I always used to get my hair cut?

FML... I can't... I just can't.....

28. What’s my prescription for my glasses?

It's whatever the doctor tells you it is. Your mom won't specifically know your prescription. She's going to tell you that you're near sighted or far sighted, then she's going to tell you to call your doctor. Prepare yourself. You're going to have to pick up a phone, dial a number, and talk to someone. Like, a real conversation.

29. Do I have any allergies?

If you're asking this, then probably not. But again, prepare yourself, you could develop them later in life. I did. They blow.

30. Can you call my insurance for me?

No. She cannot. Call them yourself lazy ass.
31. You can’t smell carbon monoxide, right? 

Nope. It's odorless, colorless, and tasteless. This is why you don't grill in your house, and why you don't run your car in the garage with the door closed. Never try to get away with either. You're a dumbass if you do.

32. So… can I have your Netflix password?

Fool, please. Get it from your friends like all the rest of us do.

33. Can you get HBO GO and give me the password?

No asshole. Get your own overpriced cable package like all the rest of us do. Or be new age and get a Roku, but don't pawn your need for channels you'll probably rarely watch (like the rest of us) off on your mother.

34. Can I use some of your airline miles?

No. She earned them. She raised your ass and now she's off to travel and do all the shit she couldn't do when she was having to raise your codependent ass. Get your own miles. 

35. What’s the difference between a green mailbox and a blue one?

I googled for you. You're welcome. 

The blue box is the normal collection box for the public. The green box is the drop box, or relay box that a walking letter carrier will use to leave their picked up mail and packages obtained mid-route for another carrier to collect; it also may store some extra forms, extra bags etc. It's for internal use only and saves the carrier form lugging around too much.

Another answer to this is that originally all U.S. mailboxes were green, then later they changed to red and blue combined, then to mostly blue as they are today.

36. How do you know how many stamps to put on something?

Take it to the post office and they will tell you how many to put on it, but stop bullshitting everyone. You know you don't actually mail anything. You Tweet or Facebook, and then pay all your bills online.

37. What happens if I put my mail in the wrong box?

They send it back to you. Amazing, I know.

38. How do I check my credit? 

You request a report from the three major credit reporting agencies like the rest of us. Then you get the report and cry, then figure out how to dispute everything like the rest of us do. Dumbass.

39. How do I sign up for a credit card?

Follow the directions on the application and lie about your income, duh!

40. Are you supposed to ride your bike with or against traffic? 

Who rides a bike? You shouldn't be. You don't even know what mailbox to put your mail in and now you want to ride a bike on a street with actual traffic. For the love of God, just don't.

41. Can you read my lease for me before I sign it?

You're going to have them paying your rent for you too, aren't you?

42. Who do I call to turn on my electricity?

Please don't have children. Like ever.

43. Why are haircuts so expensive?

Because you get what you pay for. This has to be a guys question. No woman would ever ask this.

44. So what happens if I don’t pay my bills on time?

See number 38.

45. What is an appropriate wedding gift?

Money. Money is always good. Nobody ever returns it. 

Or alcohol. Whoever got married will need alcohol as soon as they realize what they've done. Trust me on this.


Because they didn't want you living at home with them forever.... dumbass.

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Questions I Really HAVE Asked My Mother.....

So this morning I read an article entitled "46 Questions Every Twentysomething Still Asks Their Mom". I gotta tell ya, I don't know who the "twentysomethings" were, but I'm thirty six, and I haven't asked my mother three quarters of these questions, and some of them, well I couldn't help but think that the world is doomed if these are the questions our "twentysomethings" are asking (i.e.: 42. Who do I call to turn on my electricity, and 44. What happens if I don't pay my bills on time).

Maybe I wasn't given the opportunity to ask these questions because I was the daughter of a poor Southern family... Okay, that's not true, but my parents were normal middle class folks. They graduated from high school (the first generation to do so), got married, had kids, and worked - until my mom became a homemaker and decided to have me. (I'm sure she regrets that every now and again. It's ok, I still love ya mom.)

Is it common for people to have frequent flier miles? Because I didn't fly until I was 17, and that was for a special occasion - my senior trip to Quantico, Virginia. My dad flew - in the Navy, he kept his feet on the ground after that. My mom, well my mom never flew until after my father died. She was almost 60 the first time she flew. So swapping miles, and getting passports, well, we never had no need for such nonsense! (And I still don't have any frequent flier miles - or credit cards.)

As far as asking about a 401K, what number to claim on my taxes, and what to put in a CV, the family strategy on such was simple. With respect to the 401K, you lumped as much money into it as you could possibly afford until you retired. There's a check sheet for what to claim on your taxes, and I still have to fill it out and count it up every time I apply for a new job. And my parents probably think a CV is something that has music on it.

I don't recall either of my parents being called for jury duty, matter of fact I'VE never been called for jury duty. I'm willing to bet I haven't because I'm on some secret black list of potential jurors. They just don't want to deal with me. That being said, I'm usually the one everyone calls to find out how to get out of jury duty and what happens if you don't show up. I never asked my parents about jury duty because it was understood that the courthouse was somewhere we never needed to go. People who lived their lives right didn't wind up in jury pools, the defendant's seat, the county jail.... It was also understood that in my house, being arrested for ANY crime no matter how "minor" carried a penalty of death - and our parents eternal shame and disappointment. Note: Death was the merciful part of your sentence. Matter of fact, I don't think I'd even been IN our local courthouse until my baby daddy took me to court over our daughter - that was my fault for not listening to my parents and getting pregnant out of wedlock - but that's ANOTHER blog post.

What do I take to a dinner party? What's an appropriate wedding gift? Never asked them. I don't think they knew either. My parents were hermits. Actually, my father was a hermit, and that meant EVERYBODY was a hermit. I currently find these answers on Pinterest. In fact, I find everything related to being social on Pinterest, Or I ask my friend Cathy. She's amazing and should teach classes on how to be social. Primarily because I need them.

Pretty much number 21, "Why doesn't my chicken taste like your chicken" was the only one I could identify with, and it has nothing to do with chicken. My mom makes the most amazing Eggo waffles ever. My brother, niece, and I will not make our own waffles at mom's house. We will all wait until she makes them, and she still has to cut them for us. At 48, 36, and 21 years of age, we are not ashamed to admit this publicly because they DON'T taste the same if we make them. They just don't. She will probably be on her death bed and we'll wheel her to the kitchen and put the fork and knife in her frail little hands so she can still make and cut them for us. I'm not even joking.

So this leads me to come up with the questions I HAVE asked my mother. I realized as I contemplated this list that while my parents weren't wealthy or well traveled, and didn't hold some high executive position, they still managed to prepare me for life, and give me enough to get me pointed in the right direction so that when things came up that they had no experience with, that I'd at least be able to find the information or have the balls to ask for help.

In my life I didn't have the most expensive stuff, and I didn't get everything I wanted, but close enough. Better than all that though, I had the most amazing parents. I have been blessed with more love than I ever deserved. Thanks Mom and Dad.

And now for my list:

1. Can you come over and help me decorate my Christmas tree?

2. Do you prefer to season your collards with salt pork or bacon grease?

3. How many tea bags and how much sugar do you put in your tea?

4. How do I fry chicken again?

5. Does this dress look slutty?

6. Can you go with me to help me find a bra? And does this one fit right?

7. How do I lower my electric bill? And is $350 to high for AC in August in Florida?

8. I have $50 for food this week. What do I cook to stretch it into enough meals for three of us?

That's it. Because as every good Southern woman knows, nothing else really matters so long as we can fry a chicken and wash it down with a swig of good sweet tea.
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