Category Archives: Out and About

Hallo, St. Maarten!

Farmhouse38.com in St.Martin/St.MaartenOkay, this is a rambler; lots of photos to scroll through. I apologize in advance, but I can’t not share some images from our recent trip to St-Martin/St.Maarten. It has been a looooong time since the Texan and I have gone on a grown-up vacation (the last being our honeymoon in Belize, seven years ago–OY!), and this one was definitely worth the wait. Gotta give a loud shout-out to our friends, Laura and Dan (of oliveandlove.com fame) for letting us tag along!

St. Maarten, via Farmhouse38.com

The amazing view from our unit.

For those of you who don’t know, this pretty little Caribbean island has the interesting distinction of being one of the smallest sea islands divided between two separate countries. So a little over half the island is French (Saint-Martin) and just under half is Dutch (Sint Maarten). Makes for a charmingly diverse vacation spot. With lots of views like these:

Visiting St. Maarten/St. Martin via Farmhouse38.com

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

Panoramic view from the rooftop of one of our favorite spots on the French side in Orient Bay, the Sun Beach Clubber.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

A relaxing lunch and cocktails inside the Sun Beach Clubber, St. Martin.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Swimming in the amazingly green water of Orient Bay.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

View from the beach of Simpson Bay, St. Maarten.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

The Texan and I getting our float on in Simpson Bay.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

Great Bay, Philipsburg, St. Maarten.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

More Great Bay gorgeousness.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

Simpson Bay sunset group selfie! What is my face even doing?

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

Sunset over the pool and beach of our resort.

I mean…the views everywhere were ridiculous.

Another of my very favorite things about the Caribbean is the architecture. I obsess over it. And took 900 photos of it (of which I shall spare you the lion’s share).

The Dutch capital of Philipsburg was so full of charm:

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin/St. Maarten

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

I kind of want this shed in my backyard.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

A lovely little alleyway in Philipsburg.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

The Guavaberry Emporium was a must-stop to sample their famous liquors and rums (and it is a darn darling little Caribbean building).

Farmhouse38.com at the Guavaberry Emporium, St. Maarten

There’s OliveandLove.com smiling with her guavaberry cocktail despite the fact that I had just been mercilessly dragging everybody through the streets of Philipsburg in manic pursuit of this place.

The French capital of Marigot was full of adorable buildings, too:

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

We happened to be on the French side of the island just in time for la Fête Nationale, so there was lots of festiveness everywhere!

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Just FYI…when I buy a house in the Caribbean, I’m painting it hot pink and neon yellow. Fact.

We love us some beach bars, and St.Martin/St.Maarten did not disappoint:

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin/St. Maarten

Farmhouse38.com in St.Martin/St.Maarten

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

Incidentally, this is one of my favorite photos from the trip…this little hidden bar down a little side alley in Philipsburg. And just on the other side of that bar? The beach.

Speaking of awesome beach bars…this one kind of takes the cake:

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

The Sunset Bar & Grill is a great bar, perched on a pretty little beach.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

Which also happens to sit right next to the airstrip of the Princess Juliana International Airport.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten.

So…ya know…this happens.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

You can stand, literally, right beneath the planes as they are landing.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

And, literally, piss your pants.

The bar posts the flight times, of course, because it’s a big attraction on the island…I highly recommend experiencing a 747 coming in (pictured above). I also highly recommend a pina colada before, during, and after.

Though we mainly spent our time at the beach, our adventuring did take us briefly inland to visit La Ferme Des Papillons (the Butterfly Farm, read all about that here) and then on to spend a day at lovely Loterie Farm.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

A jungle oasis, complete with natural spring pools and private cabanas. Oh, and French pool boys serving you cocktails.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

These pools were to die for; connected by meandering streams and waterfalls all tucked away amongst the jungle. And your cocktails are brought to you, did I mention that?

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Beyond the pools, there is jungle zip-lining (that’s a nope for me) and hiking through the lush forest. And then there’s the amazing restaurant and bars on the property. It was a whole lot of awesome for one place.

Some other highlights from the trip:

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Climbing to the top of Fort Louis for the panoramic views of the French side of the island. That’s the Texan actually doing a panoramic on his phone.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Island goat!

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Island flowers.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

You know I had to find some chickens.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Awkward vacation selfies.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Farmhouse38.com

Little moments of island perfection.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Oh, hayyy lizard.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Holding an Atlas Moth like I do it every day.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Island sheep.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Maarten

This is really how I spent most of my vacation.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin

Also this…

 

Can we go back yet? I’m ready to go back now.

Farmhouse38.com in St. Martin/St. Maarten

 

 

 

 

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin

 

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.comOf all the marvelous adventures we had on our trip to St. Maarten/St. Martin, I of course, must start by posting photos from La Ferme des PapillonsThe butterfly nerd wants what the butterfly nerd wants. If you are lucky enough to visit that beautiful little island, you simply must plan to make a stop at the farm. We arrived early in the morning, just after a rain storm, and it was magical.

La Ferme Des Papillons, St. Martin, by Farmhouse38.com

 

 

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, by Farmhouse38.com

The incredible Dead Leaf Butterfly…folded up, looks just like a…(wait for it)… dead leaf.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.com

Holla, Swallowtail!

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.com

Eggs on a banana leaf.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.com

Young larvae of the Giant Owl Eye munching on a banana leaf.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.com

A nearly full-grown Owl Eye larvae.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.com

The Giant Owl Eye Butterfly (can you tell I love this butterfly?).

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.com

I was thrilled to see monarchs here (all the species represented at the farm are non-native). Our tour guide discussed the dwindling monarch population in America and, of course, got to hear me gush about my monarch-centric garden back home. This garden was full of gorgeous tropical milkweed that all the butterflies were going ape over.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.com

The curators of the farm collect many of the chrysalises they find and keep them safely in vented cupboards. These are opened every morning to release any new hatchlings. I was fascinated by these cupboards, and took billions of photos (of which I will mostly spare you)–they are treasure boxes lined with tidy rows of enchanting little charms. So breathtaking to see them displayed like this.

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.com

Particularly fascinating were the cocoons of the Atlas Moth, spun inside dried leaves as camouflage.

And…speaking of which:

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.com

By far, the most memorable moment of the farm (and maybe the whole trip for me), was getting to hold an Atlas Moth in the palm of my hand. The world’s largest moth…these things only live for seven days!!!

La Ferme des Papillons, St. Martin, via Farmhouse38.com

This is one of those creatures that makes me lose my breath. It is so incredible that this thing exists–it seems like a prop out of some fantasy/science fiction movie. Right? How is this thing even real!!!

And in case you were wondering…the island, itself, was teaming with indigenous butterflies–everywhere you looked things were just alive with them:

I don’t mean to overshadow the gloriousness of the rest of the island with my trip to the butterfly farm–I just get overly excited about butterfly farms and pavilions and gardens (ya don’t say!!!). Stay tuned for a subsequent post with non-butterfly highlights from the trip that look a little something like this:

Visiting St. Maarten/St. Martin via Farmhouse38.com

St. Maarten, via Farmhouse38.com

 

St. Maarten/St. Martin is pretty easy on the eyeballs, let me tell ya.

 

#tutuTOUGH

CarlinTshirt

Donate Directly to Carlin’s Cancer Expense Fund

OR

Buy TeamCarlin Gear to Help Support

This kid:

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I have no words!

Okay, maybe I have a few words:

Carlin is a precious three-year-old chock full of three-year-old sparkle; she loves to play outside, ride her horses, chase chickens, and dress her dogs in costumes (and you know they love it right back!). A country kid, through and through! She adores preschool, and being with her big sister.

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photo copyShe is something of a tutu connoisseur, and rocks those things like no one I know. And man, does that kid have a smile that goes for days.

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In November of 2013, with no warning at all, she suffered a seizure that sent her to the ER, where the doctors discovered what they thought to be a low-grade brain tumor. Surgery proved otherwise.

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Carlin was diagnosed with an extremely rare and very aggressive type of brain tumor called ETANTR (Embryonal tumor with abundant neuropil and true rosettes). She is currently undergoing an intensive chemotherapy protocol, which will be followed up with radiation.

And yet, still rocking those tutus with a big ol’ smile!

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tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Carlin getting a special visit from our good friends Tina & Roo of Read to Roo.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Carlin, her big sis, Harper, and Roo (sporting a tutu of his own).

When Carlin was first diagnosed, there was so very little information out there on this diagnosis (there is somewhere around only 300 reported cases) that her parents were at a loss. It is their hope to bring more awareness to the ETANTR tumor, and to its research. Here is a more detailed article for anyone wishing to have a little more information on ETANTR.

For more about Carlin’s story, please visit tutuTOUGH.com and follow along on Twitter. You can help support Carlin’s treatment by donating directly or by stocking up on Team Carlin Gear.

Additionally, you can cheer Carlin on by using the hashtag #tutuTOUGH on your tweets, Instagram photos, and Facebook posts. We want to see you sporting your Team Carlin gear, so be sure to take a photo and tag it with #tutuTOUGH! Here’s some examples:

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

My Nephew rocking his Team Carlin shirt. He thinks Carlin is not just #tututough, but also superhero-tough! (His words!)

 

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Abbie, Phoebe, and Milo show off their muscles (and muffin-tops) in their #tutuTOUGH doggy t-shirts.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Go Team Carlin! Photo courtesy of Michelle Agnew.

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Team Carlin in Ohio! Photo courtesy of Tina Anderson.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Two #tutuTOUGH pixies representing after their theater production of Peter Pan. Photo courtesy of Amy Loy.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

#tutuTOUGH, Dallas-style! Photo courtesy of Jennifer Smallwood.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

Tutus for #tutuTOUGH–thanks, Roo and E! Photo courtesy of Tina Anderson.

tutuTOUGH.com ETANTR Awareness

And, of course, the most #tutuTOUGH of them all: Miss Carlin!

Fight’s on, Brain Cancer!

 

 

 

Of Monarchs and Milkweeds

Monarch Butterfly Gardening at Farmhouse38.comI attended college at UC Santa Barbara, and my very first apartment was just outside of campus in Goleta, CA. My neighborhood there butted up against a chunk of undeveloped land peppered with trails that led all through and eventually down to the beaches there. I felt very fortunate to live so close to such a place and spent a lot of time exploring and running on those trails, always taking different directions and footpaths to see where they would take me. One afternoon, I was doing just this, running a trail, and all of a sudden, I stumbled into a eucalyptus grove that was alive with monarch butterflies. Stunned and all alone, it was just I and the butterflies, the flipping of their wings dripping from every leaf, every branch, and ‘puddling’ in various spots on the grove floor. It was magic, and I have never ever forgotten it.

Monarch Butterflies at the Goleta Monarch Grove via Farmhouse38

This is how I remember all the trees looking when I happened into the grove back then. Image borrowed with permission from the City of Goleta’s Butterfly Grove website.

What I didn’t know then was that I had probably stumbled into what is now the Goleta Butterfly Grove; at the time, I was totally unaware of its existence (it wasn’t designated as such until 2005, several years after I would have been there). But that beautiful, spiritual, quiet moment has haunted me ever since, and is a large part of what bothers me so much about the current decline of these incredible creatures.

First things first; a bit of information on the monarch…

The monarch butterflies comprise two separate but similar migratory patterns in the US: one west of the Rocky Mountains, and one east. The smaller western migration consists of generations of butterflies that overwinter in coastal California (anywhere from just north of San Francisco to as far south as Mexico). In the spring, the migration moves up through the Central Valley and Sierra Nevadas of California, up into Oregon, Washington, and even sometimes as far north as British Columbia. In the fall, a special generation of monarchs are born; ones that live up to 8 months. These special butterflies make the long move back down to their sites in California where they stay until spring. These are the butterflies that I have grown up with in Los Angeles, that filled my childhood backyard, that I witnessed in the eucalyptus grove in Santa Barbara, and are the very butterflies that now visit the Farmhouse garden. These monarchs and I go way back.

The eastern monarch migration is the stuff of legends, with its individuals traveling possibly as many as 3,000 miles in a season! The special migratory generation of butterflies begin in the US and Canada when milkweed and nectar sources begin to die back in the fall, and will then fly all the way to overwinter in Mexico. In the spring, they make their way from Mexico north to the US Gulf Coast, where native milkweed is just beginning to bloom, and it is here that they lay their eggs and start the next generation. Sometimes up to three generations will successively travel north, following the bloom of the milkweed back to their predecessors’ starting points.

This is where milkweed (genus Asclepias) becomes really important. It is on this that the females must lay their eggs, as it is the only thing that the larvae (caterpillars) can eat.

Building a Garden for Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

Tiny babies in the milkweed.

So what is happening to these butterflies (and so many other invertebrate pollinators)?

The Xerces Society website states:

In 2008, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), a tri-national organization covering the United States, Canada, and Mexico established by the North American Free Trade Agreement, published the North American Monarch Conservation Plan. The Plan identifies several factors that have contributed to the steady decline of monarchs across their native range:

• loss of overwintering sites in Mexico due to deforestation;
• degradation of overwintering habitat in Mexico due to forest fires, diversion of water for human use, and poorly-regulated tourist activity;
• loss of overwintering sites in California due to development;
• degradation of overwintering habitat in California due to aging trees;
• loss of breeding habitat due to the ongoing decline of native milkweeds (Asclepias spp.), their larval host plants; and
• disease, parasitism, and predation.

Additionally, The Xerces Society states:

In the western U.S., overwintering populations of monarchs along the California coast have declined from over 1 million individuals counted at 101 sites in 1997 to less than 60,000 individuals counted at 74 sites in 2009. Most scientists believe that this decline is due to the loss of milkweed from a prolonged California drought and the extensive use of pesticides.

Sad face.

So what can we, as individuals, at home in our own gardens, realistically do to help? First and foremost, put down the pesticides and the herbicides. Just stop. It may be a little trickier sometimes to deal with pests and weeds organically, but we’re all better off for it. If you’re spraying for ants (even with some so-called ‘organic’ sprays) any other unlucky invertebrates that come into contact with that stuff are going to suffer the consequences. Pesticides don’t discriminate, even though their packaging would have you believe otherwise. Herbicides are just as bad, if not worse, because they tend to be broadcast in larger quantities across much larger areas; inevitably coming into contact with more organisms, and depleting vast sections of critical native vegetation (milkweed, anyone?). Additionally, they can hang around in plant tissue (especially when we’re talking plants that have been genetically modified to resist such products), soil, and ground water for a very long time. Ick. Beyond the negative impact on pollinators, do you really want to spray that stuff on your lawn and then let your kids and pets roll around in it? Don’t. Just don’t. If you simply must use them, apply them in careful, specific doses; avoid aimless, broad applications.

That brings us to the milkweed. Plant it. Wherever, whenever, however you can (for a fantastic article on planting milkweed, visit one of my favorite blogs: Julie’s Garden Delights). But proceed with caution when going out and buying milkweed plants: most nurseries still subscribe to conventional practices, which means that that beautiful milkweed plant you bought with the bestest of intentions (that may or may not even be the right variety for your region), may be doused in some awful chemicals. Chemicals that, until they run their course (which could be quite awhile) are going to do the exact opposite of what you intended the milkweed to do. So the safest option is to find out what species of milkweed is/are native to your region (there are more than a hundred varieties in the US), buy seeds, and grow it from scratch.  Or find a reputable source for organic, native milkweed plants (don’t know where to go for that?-see below!).

Monarchwatch.org has an excellent list of milkweeds by state here, where you can figure out what kind you need to be growing in your yard. And even better: you can actually purchase flats of native milkweed plugs through them by going here. Huzzah!

Xerces.org also has an awesome milkweed finder here.

MonarchJointVenture.org lists some additional resources, and also a fabulous set of guidelines for planting and managing milkweed not only in home and public gardens, but also in agricultural areas (where milkweed populations have been notoriously wiped out), managed corridors, and natural and restored areas. Check out these guidelines here.

Building a Garden for Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

A well-fed monarch caterpillar makes its way around a milkweed stem.

It has taken me a long time to get to planning, planting, and growing the Farmhouse38 garden (had to get the house renovation done first, and, as we all know, that still isn’t done). In fact, it has only been in the last two seasons or so that I have really gotten to give it a go. It was always my intention to make the garden a haven for pollinators, but most especially for monarchs. Two seasons ago, I went to my local big-name nursery and eagerly bought three mature Tropical Milkweed, (Asclepias curassavica) plants to put in my garden. My heart was in the right place, despite being a bit misguided. Firstly, this isn’t a native variety (for my region it is the Narrowleaf Milkweed, (Asclepias fascicularis). And secondly, I have no idea what sorts of nasty stuff the plants might have been treated with. I was clueless. Thirdly…well, three plants is just not enough. Plant as much of it as you can possibly stand and/or fit. If three plants is it, well, then that’s it, but if you can fit more, do it. In its natural state, milkweed grows in thick colonies, which not only provide ample food for the monarch larvae (as well as being a natural nectar source for a variety of pollinators), but offer much needed shelter. Ideally, your garden should have generous native milkweed interspersed with a wide variety of native, flowering plants (with staggered bloom times); milkweed for the babies to eat, nectar-filled blooms for the adults to feed off of, and plenty of shelter for all. I am working towards having milkweed planted in every single bed in my entire yard.

Building a Garden for Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

This season was the first that I had caterpillars on those three Tropical Milkweeds (for the past two seasons, even though there were monarchs in my yard, they wanted nothing to do with those plants–you do the math), and they absolutely decimated them! Hungry little fellas!

Building a Garden for Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

A female and several babies vie for space on a milkweed plant.

So what am I planting in the Farmhouse garden besides milkweed? I’m shooting for as many native flowering plants as possible. Xerces.org has an awesome list of regionally-specific native pollinator-friendly seed mixes here. Additionally, I’ve got many non-native pollinator-friendly ornamentals interspersed with vegetables and herbs (as I am also working towards having a self-sustainable vegetable garden as well as a bit of a cutting garden). It is important to plant your garden for continuous bloom; all pollinators need nectar sources spring, summer, and fall. Here is a really great article by the National Wildlife Federation with some guidelines on planting a butterfly-friendly garden.

In addition to plant selections, the NWF article lists several important non-botanical features that your butterfly garden should have; mainly, that butterflies need places to rest, and they need places to ‘puddle’. ‘Puddling’ is a behavior where butterflies congregate on damp sand or mud to drink water and draw minerals. Make sure there is a spot (or two) in your garden where they can do this, and if need be, place a low dish, filled with sand or soil, and keep it damp. Place rocks and twigs within reach of the sand for the butterflies to land safely on. Butterflies also require spots where they can stop and rest in the sun; recharge, if you will. Provide flat rocks that are placed where they receive around six hours of sun a day. This will ensure that the rock is always warm and welcoming to a little butterfly-style relaxation.

Building a Garden for Monarchs at Farmhouse38.com

A monarch caterpillar begins to build its chrysalis.

It was always my intention that once the garden was up and running and properly outfitted for monarchs and pollinators alike, I would have it certified as a Monarch Waystation. This is a wonderful program run by MonarchWatch.org that encourages the implementation of monarch-focused butterfly-gardening. Through their site, you can learn about the Monarch Waystation project, see guidelines for buidling a monarch-friendly garden, purchase Waystation seed kits, as well as certify your garden as an official Monarch Waystation. Done and done.

Building a Garden for Monarch Butterflies at Farmhouse38.com

I was so surprised and excited to find this gorgeous monarch chrysalis hanging off the wrist of my Lady Scarecrow.

The plight of the monarchs is obviously a tiny, tiny facet of a broad, insidious epidemic. It isn’t just the monarchs suffering, it is many, if not all, invertebrate pollinators. They are a pivotal and now precarious support on the food chain, directly responsible for the pollination of over 2/3 of our food supply and reproduction of over 70% of the world’s flowering plants. Without them, we are in deep trouble. It is important that we sit up and pay attention, and become more responsible with our actions. The Monarch Joint Venture views the monarch as “a flagship species whose conservation will sustain habitats for pollinators and other plants and animals”; ie, if we all take the urgently necessary steps towards preservation of the monarchs’ habitat, we will be helping all the other little guys, as well.

Now will someone please help me down from this soapbox? Thanks.

Building a Monarch Butterfly Garden at Farmhouse38.com

Let’s do what we can to help them.

Sources:

Adolf, Julie. (2014, March 6). Feed the Monarchs! You Can Grow That [blog post]. Retrieved from http://JuliesGardenDelights.com.

Goleta Butterfly Grove. (n.d.) Goleta Butterfly Grove [webpage]. Retrieved from http://www.goletabutterflygrove.com/.

McLaughlin, Chris. (2009, February 5). The Fantastic Monarchs of Pacific Grove [web article]. Retrieved from http://examiner.com.

The Monarch Joint Venture. (n.d.). Create Habitat for Monarchs [website article]. Retrieved from MonarchJointVenture.org.

Monarch Watch. (n.d.). Milkweeds by State [webpage]. Retrieved from http://MonarchWatch.org

Monarch Watch. (n.d.) Milkweed Market [webpage]. Retrieved from http://MonarchWatch.org

Monarch Watch. (n.d.). Monarch Waystations [webpage]. Retrieved from http://MonarchWatch.org

National Wildlife Federation. (n.d.). How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden [website article]. Retrieved from http://NWF.org.

The Xerces Society. (n.d.). Milkweed Finder [website article]. Retrieved from http://www.xerces.org/.

The Xerces Society. (n.d.). Monarchs [website article]. Retrieved from http://www.xerces.org/.

The Xerces Society. (n.d.) Monarchs, Conservation Status [website article]. Retrieved from http://www.xerces.org/.

The Xerces Society. (n.d.). Pollinator Conservation [website article]. Retrieved from http://www.xerces.org/.

The Xerces Society. (n.d.). Pollinator Conservation Seed Mixes [website article]. Retrieved from http://www.xerces.org/.

Meet The Farmstead…and a Giveaway!

***We have a winner!! Congrats to Brenna W.!! ***

And thank you to all who entered…remember that you can pick up a print of your very own at The Farmstead’s Etsy shop.***Meet The Farmstead and a Giveaway from Farmhouse38.com

Hands down, one of my favorite spots amongst the interwebs: this wacky, wonderful thing that is The Farmstead. I cannot get enough of the whimsical images that they churn out (please, please go follow them on Facebook so that you can fully appreciate…go right now! I’ll wait here.) depicting life on their small and lovely and simply magical farm in Olympia, Washington.

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

“Let Them Eat Cake”. Lol.

'Date Night' by the Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Image by The Farmstead-OlyFarmstead.org

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

I agree. Completely.

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Meet Nick and Rachael: Mr. & Mrs. Farmstead, wearers of many hats. Pig-herders, chicken-wranglers, goat-whisperers, barn-raisers, documentary photographers; they do it all, just the two of them.

Well, they get a little help from baby daughter, ‘Gizmo’.

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Gizmo and Kitchen Pig.

They’re in good company with their motley crew of free-ranging Tamworth pigs, Katahdin Hair Sheep, and an assorted collection of goats, chickens, donkeys, dogs, and cats.

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Lest these lovely images lead you to believe that The Farmstead is all brains and beauty but no brawn; rest assured, this is a real, working farm. Their heritage breed pigs provide pastured pork to the local masses, as do their lovely grass-fed lambs, and their laying hens are hand-raised and loved on to become sweet-natured flock members for backyard chicken enthusiasts. All their animals happily free-range and forage under the canopy of the forest, living the good life, working their best angles for the camera.

But Rachael and Nick say it best on their website: We are committed to creating an environment that sustains our presence without sacrificing the land. In Europe the term “High Farming” is used to reference the perfect balance between plants and animals. Animals enrich the soil, the soil produces plants, the plants feed the animals. On The Farmstead we aspire to succeed at “High Farming” and, in turn, nourish the people.

Our farm has made the conscious decision to raise animals with respect and dignity. We believe by giving animals a free and protected environment they will grow happy and healthy, without the constant bevy of antibiotics, hormones, and fillers, factory farms are forced to use. We also believe when animals are raised in fresh air and sunshine (or in our case, rainshine) their meat and eggs are healthier for us.

Cheers to that.

Their stunning photography demonstrates just how much they love their animals (and visa versa), as well as showing off the couple’s quick, quirky sense of humor.

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

Which brings me to my favorite The Farmstead image ever…The Winged Goat:

The Winged Goat by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

I gushed over this image when it came through my feed on Facebook. An embarrassing amount. So imagine my delight and surprise when a print showed up in my mailbox. My real mailbox. Where mail goes. A real print of my very own–to hang on my gallery wall:

The Winged Goat by The Farmstead olyfarmstead.org via Farmhouse38.com

See? There it is! Prime position.

Rachael and Nick. They’re just good people.

I’m completely excited and humbled that, together, we are giving away a framed copy of The Winged Goat to one lucky winner. To enter, just follow the link below and leave us a comment telling us where you’d hang this print. Contest runs today February 28th, 2014, thru midnight Tuesday, March 4th, 2014. We’ll announce the winner on Wednesday! Good luck!

Enter here: Meet The Farmstead Giveaway

And don’t miss out on all The Farmstead fun–follow along with Rachael, Nick, and Gizmo on their farming adventures at OlyFarmstead.orgFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Image by The Farmstead- OlyFarmstead.org

The Nest Reno

A Visit to The Nest Reno from Farmhouse38While visiting Reno a couple of weekends ago, Laura, of Olive and Love, took me to one of her favorite vintage shops, The Nest Reno, for their annual Terrarium Class (which was more of a party)–ummm, vintage clothes, furniture, decor, and DIY miniature greenhouses? This is my kind of Valentine’s Day!

A Visit to The Nest Reno from Farmhouse38

The class took place inside this adorable urban vintage boutique (The Nest), with terrarium-making goods provided by Sierra Water Gardens.

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

As you can see, the store was jam-packed for this event!

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

Eclectic glass containers were provided by The Nest, and we had all sorts of fun materials to build our terrariums with. Including wine. And dessert. Essential to terrarium-building.

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

The air plants provided by Sierra Water Gardens were to die for!

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

I was so obsessed with the air plants that that was all I used in my terrarium.

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

Mr. OliveandLove made a pretty darn great terrarium. Raar! Lol.

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

But I think Mrs. OliveandLove takes the grand prize for her adorable tiny garden.

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

Her scrabble tiles read: Here. How many points is that?!

When we finished our little projects, we finally got to wander and mingle in the store and see all the amazing stuff that Tessa, owner of The Nest, has curated. Eye candy everywhere you look in this place!

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

Gorgeous vintage ties.

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

It’s bananas how much I love these old bottles.

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

Floral couch love.

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

There were so many adorable pieces of furniture (I promise you I walked out with several–paid for, I swear-you’ll see more about that in a later post).

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

Laura does some hat modeling on the side. She doesn’t like to brag about it.

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

We had too much fun. And maybe a lot of wine.

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.comA Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.comA Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.comA Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

A Visit to The Nest Reno by Farmhouse38.com

I may have bought a few extra air plants while I was at it.

We really had a fabulous time, and I just love this store. If you are ever in Reno, drop in and say hi!

In the meantime, be sure to follow along with The Nest Reno on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to see what’s new at the store.

Also–take a look at Sierra Water Gardens and follow along with their green-thumbed adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Thanks to all of you wonderful ladies for such a fun time! I heart Reno!

Stalking OliveandLove.com

Farmhouse38.com Visits OliveandLove.com

Look at that view. Now imagine it from nearly every room of your amazingly creative, light-filled, love-filled home. That’s just how life is at OliveandLove.com. I’m such a lucky ducky for getting to go visit, and Laura and Dan are probably regretting their hospitality because I’m already planning my next trip. And the one after that.

You might have seen me gush over Laura’s incredible dining room shutter wall. You may have also seen Country Living Magazine do the same in their April 2012 issue (see the online version here). Well, I was pretty geeked out over seeing it in person for the first time…so I took a lot of photos…and when I say ‘a lot’ I mean ‘A LOT’. I regret nothing.

Shutterwall at OliveandLove.com via Farmhouse38

Their entry hall peeks into the dining room with all it’s shuttered loveliness.

Here’s a better shot swiped from Oliveandlove.com:

Entryway at Oliveandlove.com

Oh, the fabulousness of that shutterwall glimpsed through re-purposed windows!

The Shutterwall at OliveandLove.com via Farmhouse38

There is such beautiful light in this room–and I absolutely heart the color scheme Laura chose to paint these pretties. It would have been really ‘safe’ to paint them white. Safe is for sissies.

How about a few more shots just because I am obsessed?

The Shutterwall at Oliveandlove.com via Farmhouse38.com

Gorgeous.

The Shutterwall at Oliveandlove.com via Farmhouse38

More gorgeous.

Though The Shutterwall grabs you immediately as you enter, it is only the tip of the iceberg; the whole house is so fantastically curated that I could literally photograph every little nook and cranny and they would all look like magazine vignettes. No joke. Across the entry from the dining room is an equally light-filled room that is Laura’s lovely studio (did I mention she’s also a prolific artist? No? Well, she is also a prolific artist–see some of her work here).

The Studio at Oliveandlove.com via Farmhouse38.com

Where the creative magic happens.

Laura is kind of a freak genius when it comes to thrift store and flea market hunting. She’s got a special sort of spidey-sense that leads her to the most incredible finds.  One of my favorites resides in the studio:

Vintage Finds from Oliveandlove.com

I mean. Come on. Magnificent. A vintage card catalog, all filled with perfectly organized little crafting bits and bobs.

Right around the corner from the studio is another fun up-cycled masterpiece: the chair shelves. Or shelve chairs. Call them what you will.

Upcycled Chair Shelves from Oliveandlove.com via Farmhouse38

I mean, who thinks of these things?!! Laura. Laura thinks of these things.

The Livingroom at Oliveandlove.com

The entry opens onto the livingroom, which is layered with light and color and texture, creative collections, and Laura’s original art. AND it looks out onto that incredible view of the mountains.

Some other Olive and Love moments:

Vintage Finds at Oliveandlove.com

Vintage WWII posters. Awesome.

Guinea pigs at Oliveandlove.com via Farmhouse38

Guinea pig cuddles.

Hand-painted Rooster by Oliveandlove.com via Farmhouse38.com

My hand-painted birthday gift from Laura. A rooster with some gangsta swag.

A funny from oliveandlove.com via farmhouse38.com

The Olive-and-Love-Mobile. A minivan. LOL.

Little Moments from my OliveandLove.com house tour. Farmhouse38.com

Emma, soaking up some warm sun.

Planked Wood Floors at Oliveandlove.com via Farmhouse38.com

I love these planked floors. I want them in my house.

A visit to Oliveandlove.com via Farmhouse38

My older brother got to drop in for a quick visit, too, and there was some very serious Sunday morning chess to be played with the Olive and Love crew.

House Tour of OliveandLove.com via Farmhouse38.com

Another shot of those fantastic chartreuse Adirondacks looking out at that view. *sigh*

A house tour of oliveandlove.com via farmhouse38.com

A little Valentine’s Day on a DIY message board.

House tour at Oliveandlove.com via Farmhouse38

A kitty-cat vignette.

The kitchen at Olive and Love headquarters is another favorite spot of mine:

The Kitchen at Oliveandlove.com

Lots of adorable vintage finds in this room…and check out the quirk of those awesome pendants. Those are upside-down table lamps, people. Love it.

I want to go on. Because every room in this sprawling house deserves a mention. But head on over to the official house tour at OliveandLove.com to see the rest. Be sure you check out the master bedroom and bath. And also the kids’ rooms. And the guest room where I stayed. Oh just go look at all of it. It’s all amazeballs.

The reason for my trip was, contrary to popular belief, not to sit and stare gape-mouthed at the Olive and Love house (even though a large portion of my time there was spent doing just exactly that). My birthday was a couple of weeks back, and The Texan bought me the ticket (no, it was not one way) as a gift so I could go have a fun weekend with friends. He works so much this time of year that we never really get to do anything fun for our birthdays (his is a week or so before mine) or for Valentine’s Day. So this year, I spent Valentine’s Day weekend exploring Reno (where I had never before been) with Laura. We filled our days with a little bit of snowshoeing, a ton of shopping (that thrifty spidey-sense of her’s really came in handy), and a lot of sight-seeing. Such fun!

Snowshoeing In Reno with Oliveandlove.com via Farmhouse38.com

Laura and I taking in some fresh alpine air. It burns (when you’re used to breathing smog).

Oliveandlove.com and Farmhouse38.com getting into trouble.

Goofing off at The Nest Reno during their Valentine’s Day Terrarium Class (more on that fun time coming soon).

Reno weekend with oliveandlove.com via farmhouse38.com

I’m such a sucker for sparkly lights.

Thanks for a great time, Oliveandlove.com! And thanks for indefinitely storing all that stuff I bought that was too big to come home on the plane. I will settle my storage bill when I come back up in a few weeks. :-)

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