Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas at Thistle Hill Ranch

I have been so excited to decorate for Christmas here at our new home. Even though the plan is to build a new home here in the next year, and my creative designing juices are flowing in several directions, I am thrilled to decorate with a woodland or "ranch-y flair".

I wanted it to be simple, slightly rustic; yet classy. I had thought I organized everything perfectly, when the movers unloaded us, where all my Christmas decorations were going. Yet, somehow I still found things missing. Some of the decorations must still be in semi-permanent storage. Now I had to balance homeschool, ranch projects, getting Christmas pictures and cards done; as well as getting the inside and outside decorated.

I was off to a frustrating start...

But, I always have fun decorating and I love a challenge. Unfortunately, outdoor lights on the house didn't happen. But, I got wreaths hung on each window, and candles inside of each as well. Then, I tried to add a bit of Christmas flair to the front porch, keeping in mind, the constant mud and dirt my boys track up is a ranch after all. { I can't wait for the future mudroom}.

Notice the boots all lined up, Ha!


Notice the mud streaks...ugh!...I know, I know, it's a RANCH!

Then, we had to get a new tree. Our old 12 foot tree wouldn't quite fit, LOL! The new 7.5 foot tree we found was perfect. Because of my asthma, artificial trees are the only kind I can have. They really have come a long way! The trees are looking more and more real each year, and pre-lit is always a plus!


I used pheasant feather and an owl as the topper, and grapevine garland. I couldn't find my humongous owl for the topper, that lights up...oh well!


The formal dining room is where we homeschool, so I can't go crazy decorating it. I did decide to use the same burlap piece I've used before, one of our pheasants as part of the centerpiece display, moss covered conical trees, more grapevine garland, adding pinecones, winter berries, brown candle sticks, and my husband's trumpet from middle school.


I convinced my husband Glen to break out the camera yesterday, gather the horses on a dismal afternoon, with lots of mud from the 2 days of rain, and take Christmas pictures. I knew it was cold, muddy, cloudy, and horrible lighting, but...what choice did I have? Hellllllooooooo....Christmas is next week! He knew it and I knew it, this is a bad idea, but we have's now or never. And thank goodness for Walgreens same day service on printing pictures!

I envisioned it snowing like last year and we'd get a great snowy picture at Thistle Hill, and that didn't happen. Then, I pictured our newly spruced up barn and snow, and THAT didn't happen. I was out of ideas and time!

I grabbed a huge wreath I had, tied some pinecones and bells on it, with a burlap bow. Then, I grabbed an old lantern, and plaid throw blanket ...threw them over the H-Brace we have by the pond, and crossed my fingers the photo would look cute, and not ridiculous!

Turns out...the picture turned out kinda cute. Well, not bad for a camera battery that was apparently no longer holding a charge, all of us knee deep in mud, (hence my awkward standing position), Glen setting the timer and feverishly running back into place. Then, hoping everyone had their eyes on the camera, horses looking normal, and NOBODY blink! Out of a gazillion pictures we got 1, LOL! Then took some quick pictures of the boys on their own and got some cute shots. I have SO much respect for professional is NOT easy to get a good picture! This of course is evident, by all my blog photos from my phone camera, HA!

I can't wait for our 1st Christmas here at Thistle Hill! I hope your Christmas is Merry too!

Merry Christmas & Many Blessings from Thistle Hill Ranch!

Monday, December 15, 2014

I'm Back!!!!

So...what happens when your iPad shatters and you're a "one way Charlie", and only like blogging on your iPad? Well, you don't Blog. I also had my boys trying to talk me into, {pressuring me}, to look at other devices other than my iPad. Then, I became overwhelmed with decisions on whether "To Fix or Not to Fix"!

I Fixed! It just took forever to get time and make the efforts fix it. I don't live exactly close to every store anymore. I was lazy and extremely busy with the ranch and homeschooling.

But, now I'm back!

Now,...where to start?

Do you want to hear about homeschooling 6th and 8th/11th grade in the country?, Or, our new "country life" and how it's going?, Or, maybe decorating tips and pics?

Well, how about a dash of all 3?

We love the country life! The boys have been in horseback riding lesson for 6 months now and look so comfortable, as if they've been riding forever. We bought another horse for Preston's 14th Birthday, that they both share for riding. It's a mare, (female horse), I'm learning the proper lingo. She is so sweet, and she bonded to our boys almost immediately. We brought her home after 2 months of training, last week. She is right at home here at Thistle Hill Ranch.

Preston named her Bailey.

These are pictures of her at Kyle Ranch, where the boys were getting lessons.
This one, is the day we surprised Preston with Bailey. He had NO clue...I couldn't believe we pulled that surprise off.

This is Landen riding her in the round pen.

Preston and Bailey at home at Thistle Hill Ranch. This horse is just so sweet! We are very thankful to Kyle Ranch for finding the perfect horse for our boys, and to Martin the most patient trainer.

We had to ween Duke, our colt, from Sandy, his mother, our other mare. I think that was harder on me than Sandy and Duke! But, now Sandy has a friend in Bailey. Sandy is due in a couple months with a new baby colt or filly. We can't wait! Our first baby, to be born at Thistle Hill Ranch!

Sandy is on the right and Bailey on the left, sharing alfalfa. They now have separate hay/ alfalfa buckets...Bailey turns out, doesn't really like sharing, Ha!

Here are a few other pictures to catch everyone up!

Thanksgiving at Thistle Hill Ranch with my sister and her family.


My boys, Preston and Landen

The cousins

Nosey Charolais heifers!

Thanksgiving table, complete with a pumpkin pilgrim.

Turkey leg goodie bag.

My handsome husband and brother-in-law, with Buster Bear, their golden-doodle.

Landen and Daisy
Glen moving the tractor in his work clothes, LOL! It was SO "Green Acres", I couldn't resist a picture.

Landen and Daisy...oh...and the cows. Landen shares his snacks, and it shows!

Harvest picnic table. of the nosey cows!

The swing I begged for, and EVERYONE in the family loves!

Come back soon! I'll be writing about homeschooling this school year, posting pictures of Christmas at Thistle Hill, and I have been working at sprucing up our barn. I will show before and after pictures very soon. It's almost done...I'm so excited. It's the small things.

Happy to be back blogging...y'all come back soon!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Thistle Hill Ranch Selfies

I am still not quite sure what all the hype about "selfies" is, but, I thought I'd better try my hand at it, to catch up with the trend!

So what better subjects than my Animal family?

The day I took these, it was raining like crazy and cold. So I'm warning you ahead of time, that I look atrocious!

But, here they are...

Me and Miss Daisy~

This was actually taken a couple days ago...Baby Duke gave me kisses!

Momma Sandy, wondering why I'm interrupting her meal for a selfie~

Number 35 getting a little cheeky, Ha!

Farm Animal Family Group shot!

My Westies Mr. Darby on the left and Miss Bonnie on the right!

So, even though in most of the pictures I look like a deer in headlights, my furry friends look great!

I don't think "selfies" are for me...but it was kinda fun!

Have a great Weekend!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Inspirational Monday: Guest Post From Nikolas Baron

Break the Rules, Learn a Lesson
I know what you're thinking: Well, the title is a big “of course!” When we break the rules, we learn our lesson. If we steal something, we get caught, and we have to face the consequences. Why should I even pay attention to this guy? Well, random Internet reader, you should pay attention to me because I'm not talking about obvious lessons here. I'm not talking about the consequences for stealing a candy bar or a car. I'm talking about a different lesson, a positive one – one your students will be able to use their entire academic career. Specifically, I'm talking about lessons that teach you to write properly.
Let me drop a hypothetical: One day, I decide to teach sentence fragments to a student. I sit down with a list of sentences, explain how a complete sentence requires both a subject and a verb, and then go over the sentences with the student to find fragments. Oh yeah, and in doing all of this, I also put the student to sleep. Sitting and listening to rules is bad enough, but to then be forced to apply those rules on a series of bland, unrelated sentences? Boring! How, then, should I teach something like sentence fragments without putting my hypothetical student to sleep? I think an easy and fun way to do that is to encourage him or her to break the rules. Encourage writers to write as many fragments as possible and see where it takes their writing.
Now, don't get me wrong. I encourage properly-written English. In my work with Grammarly, I research how people write and what tools they use to become better writers. In fact, over at Grammarly, we created a grammar check that considers over 250 rules for any given piece of text. I love good grammar. Beyond that, I understand its importance outside my job as well. In your student's academic career, she will probably have to write hundreds of things, from resumes to academic papers. Good grammar ensures that what she writes looks competent.
That said, I also understand that it's important to have fun when you write. And what's more fun than breaking the rules? Most first-year college students have a poor opinion of writing, and that's not surprising. All through school, they've been hammered with grammatical rules, such as “a complete sentence needs a subject-verb combo” and “a comma separates a dependent clause from its respective independent clause.” There are so many rules, and they are so complex, students' heads often end up swimming by the time they reach semicolons.
To be fair, you could just send them to Grammarly and let us find the errors for them. We're fine with that. But, wouldn't it be much more fun to teach them these rules from the ground up, so they grow up with a healthy understanding of proper English? That way, they might not feel lost when they get to college and realize that passing English Composition is required, regardless of their program.
How then can we use breaking the rules to our advantage? By not only encouraging them to break the rules but also rewarding them for doing so. Make it a game. In my sentence fragment example above, what if I would have encouraged my hypothetical student to write as many fragments as possible and then evaluated his or her writing based on the number of fragments? From the student's perspective, that would have probably been way more interesting. “You mean, I get to break the rules? And you're not going to fail me for it?” From the teacher's perspective, it gets even better than that. In order to write a fragment, our fictional student would have to know what a fragment sentence is, and if they're engaged in the lesson, they're going to learn. If you had multiple students, you could even turn it into a competition. Have everyone write a story using sentence fragments; the person who uses the most wins!
Now, to be fair, this idea may not work with every grammatical error. That said, if you do some creative adjustment, I think you'll find you can adapt this idea to a lot of different writing lessons. The key is to engage the students in writing and thinking about the rules, so they can learn them... even if in doing so, they break a few rules along the way.
Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Thistle Hill Ranch

So, why the long wait between posts? Well, we moved to the country!

I can't believe it, but our dream of country living actually came true. We had talked about it off and on for years; but, there was always a road block. Suddenly we were out looking at properties for giggles, and then it happened...the perfect property! It was close enough for my husband to commute to work, in fact, the same distance he was driving before. It had a modest barn, and home that wasn't too fancy, as to drive up the cost. But more importantly, it gave us goosebumps!



The property has trees everywhere, a pond, a spring fed creek winding through, beautiful wildflowers and wildlife. We were sold!

Only one problem, we had to sell our house, pack, and move in less than 2 months. Well, we sold our house in a week, I was packing like a maniac, trying to finish up our homeschooling for the year, all while my husband was being moved to a new community and therefore, couldn't take time off...UGH....double UGH!

But, we made it!

It was bitter sweet leaving our home of over 10 years, but we were ready for our new beginning in the country. I had us moved in on a Saturday, unpacked, pictures hung and settled by that following Tuesday afternoon. But, I couldn't have done it without my sister Heather helping me unpack all day that Sunday, and my boys taking load after load of broken down boxes, and stuff for storage to the barn. We have been here enjoying country life for almost a month.

Yes, Miss Bonnie, (on the left), and Mr. Darby,(on the right), love it as much as we do! Getting used to seeing cows and a donkey...well, that may take time, Ha!

{We have plenty of space in the backyard, but I had to put the chaise and coffee table I built, out front under these two trees. I actually use it a lot. The shade is perfect and being up on the little hill, it gets the most perfect afternoon breezes.}

We bought some Charolais heifers, ie. female cows, and one "Jenny", otherwise known as a female donkey.


I am somewhat new to all these terms. It's funny how quickly it became part of my everyday vernacular.

We named our donkey Daisy, and she watches over the herd and loves my boys...and the treats they give her doesn't hurt the bond between them. We couldn't believe when she got delivered, having been bought sight unseen, that she was white in color like our cows and incidentally our dogs too! Funny how life works out, I have monochromatic animals, with the exception of our cat, Miss Scarlett our tiger cat. My husband jokes that I was trying to decorate the outside too, LOL! We may be crazy, but not nuts, Ha!


Life is more quiet, and moves at a much easier pace. We know it will take lots of work to get this place back up to speed. The property was owned by one family for over 150 years. The family built a "new" house in the 80's. It really is in great shape, and the 90 year old owner had put in granite in the kitchen and master bath to update it. She is just amazing...I'm not convinced it's not something in the water around here...everyone looks and acts MUCH younger than their age. Maybe it's true what they say about country living...or I just need to drink out of the creek... that was my friend Marla's idea!


We are trying to get used to a new way of life, new responsibilities, and the fabulous morning view has been a dream! I will post pictures of our new RANCH soon...I was out voted on using the term "Farm". We drove up to the Ranch after we had purchased it, and the hill was covered in purple thistles, large and small. Glen and I were married at Thistle Hill in Fort Worth...I literally about cried. To me, it was just one more sign that this place was meant to be ours. So we named it Thistle Hill Ranch.


So Welcome to Thistle Hill Ranch! We will be raising Charolais cattle, 2 boys, a donkey, 2 Westies, eventually some horses, and (not necessarily in that order), and hopefully in the next year or so, building our dream farmhouse.

I hope you check back, to see updates on improvements to the ranch, (inside and out), ranch shenanigans, and balancing it all while homeschooling. Our Thistle Hill Ranch website is still in its developmental stage, but there, it will have our cattle information.


Happy 1st Day of Summer and Stop by Thistle Hill Ranch Again Soon!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Farmhouse Love!

I am in love with farmhouses. They come in so many shapes and sizes. To me, they have personalities, that evoke emotion. They can be calming, nostalgic, adventurous, and charming!

When I picture farm living I have a few things that come to mind...


1. John Denver singing, anything from his greatest hit album..."life on the farm is kinda laid back.."

2. The fact that I know people might think we would look a little out of place...


3. But, I know something a lot of people don't know...we will really look like this...



So, if we get our wish to some day live life on the farm, here are some of my favorite farmhouse exterior and interior designs.


It's no secret how much I love older homes, and the character the have. This has the symmetry I love and character. I think it would look great on farm land.

This home has the stone and wood exterior, that gives it the look of character that has evolved over time.

I love this home because, I'm a huge fan of cupolas and lookouts! I love the corbels under the roof line, and the wrap around porch, is just perfection.

This is just simple and charming.

I would love this house if it had a screened in porch on the back...maybe it does! It's just classic, simple, and elegant all at the same time.

This room is a HUGE want, because of the openness and light filled room.
I had to add the "signage"'s just too cute!
Now.............Cue the angel singing...."Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"
This is my FAVORITE!!!
I know it's not what most would consider a traditional farmhouse, but I'm anything but traditional. I found out recently, that I had pinned almost all of the rooms in this home and had no idea it was all from the same house!
The architect is Group 3 from Hilton Head, South Carolina. This home was featured as a Southern Living house plan. They did such a beautiful job with this home. It is a modern home, with character of a historic home. It's ME to a tee!
Huge front porch with great stairs, metal roof, and could it be?....a screen door? Oh yes! It's the house for me!

Front view 1 farmhouse exterior

Screened in back porch with a fireplace. Holy wow!
This is the entrance hall...I actually used this picture, as inspiration many years ago for a kitchen redo.
I found the hutch on Craigslist in the homeowners area, and she already owned the sideboard.
Again, is just so funny how much I loved this home and only new of the neat they are all from the SAME house!
Isn't this kitchen just breathtaking? The two story ceiling, the Bermuda shutters on the windows for shade and yet, so much light!
Seriously? Could this Subzero 700 series refrigerator be any more perfect?


This breakfast room with banquet, is what on the plans is labeled "office". It is behind the sink in the kitchen, which is the window you see. I wouldn't change a thing!



The screened porch looking into what on the plans says breakfast nook, but the designer turned into a sitting's perfect!

So now, I need to find a farm...PLEASE!!

* all of these pictures are from my Pinterest page Farmhouse Love.


Have a great week! And Happy Farm Dreamin' Y'all!!!