Friday, October 2, 2015

Fall Decor at Thistle Hill Ranch

FALL decorating is SO much FUN!

We still have so much in storage, until our house gets built, and this makes Holiday decorating a tad challenging. So many of my fun decor items are packed up. But, I love repurposing and gathering from nature to decorate. Needless to say, Fall is a fun time for natural decor....things from your back yard! FREEEEEE!

A pumpkin here, a pheasant feather there, and it makes me want hot apple cider.

I did have a couple Fall decor bins make it here in the move, and this funny Halloween cat was in one of them. Even though my boys are in their early teens, they still like the fun stuff out too.

This is in our breakfast nook, this little 4 drawer dresser, I got at a flea market for $35 dollars. I have used it in many rooms. I love having it here, because I really needed extra storage. The cloche is on a slice of one of our cedar trees that had died on the property. I had my guys cut me 12 for dinner chargers. The lamp was a gift from the 91 year old lady that we bought the ranch from. I just adore it!

Below, is my formal dining table and sideboard. I made the chalkboard from an old framed print, that I wasn't fond of anymore. I turned the print around and painted the reverse with chalkboard paint.
The wicker tray was from a fabulous wicker coffee table that was given to me. I love the large size of this tray. I have a feeling I will be using this tray in many places.

This is our skinny entrance table, that I got at a resale shop for $25 because it has a broken corner in the glass. That's what lamps are for...cover the blemish please! I love that it's skinny, because the entrance is very narrow. The ceramic container is actually for beverages...or as I see it, anything else I want it to be used for. I love filling it with pumpkins in the Fall, & pinecones and evergreens in the Winter...and occasionally beverages at parties!

The woven tray with leather handles, I found on I love that online store. I have quite a few things from there. The bronze/gold pumpkin was a gift from my sister Heather. She knows how much I love Fall, and a bronze/gold pumpkin was a much loved gift!
Add some Indian corn, driftwood candle holder, and old family books and I'm happy about the Fall display in the living room. My husband likes that it doesn't get in the way of "optimum viewing" of the t.v. HA!

The front porch, I try to switch up every year. This year I made the "BOO" sign from some leftover drop cloth, and wrapped it over the old ladder rungs. I attached them with safety pins.

A couple mums and my metal pumpkins and Fall is outside too!

Even Scarlett loves Fall!

Falling asleep in the skeleton's lap, cracks me up!

This is our breakfast table, with a view of our hay pasture. Here, I added a gray ticking scarf, a little ceramic jack-o-lantern, and the cotton stalks. I wanted to keep it simple and neutral. But, it still has a dash of Fall fun too.

Last but not least, a little literature humor with my Ichabod pumpkin head, on the fern stand. This is near our entrance, off of the dining room. We just finished reading the short story. It's always a fun tale during the Fall season.

I love seeing all the creative Fall ideas on Instagram, Pinterest and of course magazines. I can't wait for Thanksgiving...I'll have to change it up a tad...Because a designer is never really done, especially when it's their home, ha!

Happy Fall Ya'll! And Happy Decorating!


Monday, September 28, 2015

Homeschool 2015 at Thistle Hill Ranch

We are entering our 4th year of homeschooling. I have a 7th grader and Freshman this year.

I just finished our class chalkboard, for October, since we were finished with the September board early. I put on the monthly board, the month meaning, special events, historical birthdays, and holidays. I also put up the weekly SAT Vocabulary. They are tested on the vocabulary weekly and have activities that go with them. The bottom of the board has our Group Literature Assignment. This is the book we read together.

They each have their individual literature books, that they pick from a collection of classics.

Then, we have one we read together. The book we are reading right now is a short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow...getting in the mood for Fall and Halloween. I love letting our literature correspond with our history or season. It makes it more interesting...and FUN!


My 7th grader is doing high school level science, reading, and vocabulary with his older brother, my Freshman. My son, the Freshman, is doing Sophomore or Junior level math, (depending on your school. I did algebra 2 as a Junior, but things have changed), and Senior level English.

Homeschooling means the grade level lines are blurred. Your children can work at "their pace"!

This is probably my favorite thing about homeschooling, and the hardest thing to get used too. But, when they struggle, you go over it until they get it. No one trying to get you to move quickly. And, if you move quickly...well, you can! No finish when you finish.


I love our curriculum this year. It really is tailored to their interests.


Preston, my Freshman, is REALLY interested in anything having to do with history, financial planning, and politics. He picked a lot of his classes this year...just like "regular" high school. For the last 3 years, I've let them have a lot of input in their studies, but there is still the cores studies, that aren't optional. This year, he has the choice of foreign language, and electives. I have found that this made him more enthusiastic and dedicated to his studies.

Landen, my 7th grader, is so easy going, but he had specific requests this year. He wanted to follow in his brothers studies with foreign language and science. This made my life easier and me one happy mom. Luckily he does really well in science, so this isn't a stretch.

Our daily routine is pretty simple. They have warm-up journaling for 10 minutes, handwriting practice in cursive for 10 minutes, (yes cursive...I believe handwriting is still important), and then they move on to their core subjects. ELA, Math, and Science. They do their electives next, and then we break for lunch. I read history and our group book at this time. They finish the day with guitar practice.

When I get asked about how to homeschool, the answer is "with flexibility". Like I mentioned before, we all learn differently, no one way is better. I do however, keep in line with the public and private schools. My boys want to go to college, and have certain colleges/universities in mind. This means I have to plan accordingly, for what those colleges/universities expect for their applicants, and incoming Freshman.


Research, Research, Research!


I love researching...pretty much anything, (I know, it's weird, but I do), and for me, it's fun to get ideas from other homeschooling parents, and teachers from all over. It really is fun to get new ideas on how to teach literature, history, art, etc. i have found so many inspirations on Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Homeschooling ideas are everywhere!

I am very hands on, and I love real life stories that relate to our studies. I think it makes our studies more tactile and relatable. Therefore, the more ideas I can gather the better the learning experience.

For example, with our family living on a ranch/farm, it gives us so many opportunities to expand our learning. They have learned so much about financial planning, from how we run the ranch. They have learned how politics effects our ranch too, like the EPA, all the way to the IRS. They have learned animal husbandry, and buying and selling of our animals too.

I guess, what I'm trying to say, is everyday life teaches us so much. The key, is to pull from current events, environmental (ie. where you live, for history of agriculture and industry, and even holidays, (for their traditions and cultural, religious, and political history), etc., and relate them to your studies. It's really fun to watch the "light bulbs" go on. Then, your curriculum always stays interesting, challenging, and fun. Not to mention, if your kids have time to ask questions, they are always stretching their level of understanding. I find that I learn something new too. I LOVE THAT!

This is our writing assignment board. The topics include essays, research assignments, poems, etc.

Thank you for letting me share our homeschooling adventure...which is always evolving.

One thing I've learned, is how amazing the homeschooling community is. Always sharing, caring, and supportive. So, if you are new to homeschooling, or just thinking about it, don't be afraid to go on-line, find a homeschooling community, and ask questions. They are always willing to help!


Happy Homeschooling!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

FALL is in the Air at Thistle Hill Ranch

FALL is in the air here at a Thistle Hill Ranch! So many changes to share.

I have been longing for the cool breezes of Fall to hit the South. You know you live in Texas when a cold front is temperatures in the 80's. But...I'll take it!

I woke up this morning to 60* temperatures!

Funny how the whole mood of the ranch changed this morning.

The horses in the front meadow enjoying cool breezes, and not escaping to the trees for shade, the flowers weren't wilting, and even my coffee tasted better.

When a Fall is upon us, the color of the sun has a golden hue that gleams, even on the dry grass, making everything beautiful.

So much to report, so be advised...this will be long!

I know it's been a month or so since I wrote last. Funny how the Summer seemed to linger and then, before I knew it, it was over. I've been busy with farm life, new additions to the farm, getting the boys new curriculum ready, signed up for homeschool activities, and working on a design project.

On homeschooling, the good news is after researching and planning their curriculum, they are both excited. This is ALWAYS a plus! I will share homeschool tidbits soon, in another post.

So, here goes the update...

Welcome Duncan, the farm cat, to Thistle Hill Ranch!

He showed up 3 weeks ago and decided we were his family. He has already brought me a rat in appreciation for our hospitality, and yes, I cleaned it up.

That was a blast!

It really is adorable how all of the animals act as if he's always been a part of the family. He follows the boys while they do their ranch chores, hunts daily in the meadow, and plays with the dogs in the morning and evening. So our vet checked him out, gave him a rabies shot, & a clean bill of health. We couldn't be happier to have him around.

I'm Back to Work Designing
I'm not sure if I mentioned in my previous post, but I have been asked by my sister and brother-in-law, to do the interior and exterior design of my brother-in-laws new Classic Texoma Dealership. He just acquired the Toyota, Nissan, Honda & Used car dealership in Denison, Texas.
I couldn't be more honored!
I have only done two other commercial establishments, since I mostly stick to residential, but was elated at the opportunity to take on such a fun design project. I couldn't wait for the challenge, and can't wait to see all my designs come to fruition. Of course, being able to work with my sister & brother-in-law is a fantastic job perk. Once all the work is complete, I will share before and after photos.

Our New Farm Dog, Baron

We also have a new addition at Thistle Hill Ranch, Baron Horowitz...we hope to someday find him a Baroness! He is a Bouvier des Flandres. We researched what would be a good fit for a farm dog. We needed a BIG dog, that would be a herding dog, guard dog, good with animals, good with kids, and most importantly, good with my allergies/asthma. This task seemed near impossible.

Glen said we needed a Bouvier des Flandres! And I said "we need a what?"

I had never heard of, nor had I ever seen a Bouvier. So I did my own research, only to find out, this really does sound like the perfect fit. After numerous searches, I came across Chantal's Bouviers in Pennsylvania. She is from Belgium, where the breed is from, and is incredibly knowledgable of all aspects of the breed. It just so happened, she had 2 puppies left from her latest litter, ready to home. She sent their pictures, and I knew the minute I saw him, I had to have him!

Before he had his ears cropped
After: They are prone to moisture in their ears, therefore the ears are cropped to keep them dry, to avoid ear infections. This is seems to be deemed a necessity by most Bouvier breeders, not for vanity. But we didn't have the choice, they were done before we bought him. Chantal has been breeding this breed for many years and highly advices cropping.
Doesn't he look like a baby bat in this picture on the slide...or baby gorilla? Adorable!

Here is a stock picture of a grown Bouvier des Flandres.

They come in colors of Fawn, Black, and Brindle. Baron's sire was a Fawn and Dam a Brindle. Baron, is a Brindle...we just love his snippets of white!

This is him when we brought him home, 4 weeks ago, at 9 weeks.
This was taken 2 weeks ago...I need a new one of the 3 darlings. Getting a picture of these 3, is harder than it looks.

This was a couple days ago with Preston holding him. Preston is 15, and a tad over 5'6. Baron is already almost too big to carry around.

He's only 13 weeks old! He's Humongous...and we just adore his Royal Fluffiness!

Farm Animal Happenings
All the mares are doing well, and baby Koa is looking more like a big boy!

Our 1st Calves will be here in about a month. We are so excited! They are Charolais Angus cross. They will be little grey babies. I hope we catch a glimpse of them being born.


This is a picture of the girls, early in the AM getting ready to be artificially inseminated, last January. Some were bred in March, and some in May. They have a 9 month gestation, like humans, so it's easy to remember. I can't wait to see these calves!

And last but not least...


FALL is just around the corner and decorating has started! Here is a sneak peek.

I can't wait until the pumpkins come in at Central Market. Then, I'll make the hour and a half drive for the special colors.

And in case you're wondering...Yes, it's worth it!

So for now faux pumpkins it is.

Check back soon for my Fall Decorations post. I start with Halloween, then move to my pilgrims & turkeys for Thanksgiving. Although, a little bird told me the rest of my Fall bins are buried at the back of the barn...this year may have pumpkins only...sigh.

This is the beginning of my favorite time of year!

Have a Great Weekend, & Happy Decorating!


Monday, August 3, 2015

When the Weather Gets HOT, I Redesign!

Well, if I'm perfectly honest, when I get bored, after I'm done deep cleaning and organizing...I redesign. It's not just the HEAT.

I have been going from closet to closet, drawer to drawer, reorganizing and purging. Yesterday, I finished load after load of laundry, and started looking around our living room...that's never good.

My husband says he can never go blind, because I change the house too much!

The next thing, I knew, I had every surface emptied and was dusting and redesigning.

My boys just started laughing..."There you go again Mom! You can never just rest!".

This may be a true statement, but at least I enjoy redesign and our spaces never get old and boring.



I moved the chalkboard from the kitchen, (that had the pig on it), erased the pig, and put a "Thistle Hill Ranch" banner on it. I also moved the calf head from the kitchen here. I think you notice it more here. I needed more light "visually", so this works better for me, with the white table cloth.


Not sure why this is so darn blurry...oh well, you get the idea.

I can't find before pictures of the kitchen...typical...I always forget before pictures.

I like the change...the boys said it feels bigger. The lighting was terrible for photos, but again, I think you can get a feel for the space...I really shy away from color, but I love this scarf, and the colors, I couldn't resist putting it here.

I put the table runner, I normally have in the dining room, here to cover the glass.

It warmed it up, and lightened the room. It literally looked that! Below, I placed our napkins in a metal basket with a mouse paper weight. This is also where the chalkboard used to be. I put the mirror from above the chest here to reflect more light.

I like the peanut jars here much better. This was blurry too...I think it was the sunlight...ugh!

This is where the mirror over the sideboard came from. And this is the mirror from the dining room...I think it looks much better here. It also made the room seem taller. I brought back the lamp, from another room, (the family that owned this property actually gave its lamp to me. I adore it!), and put it back here at our back door. It's nice at night pretty.

And last but not least...

I moved the knick knacks off of the living room ottoman tray and started over.

I will take more pictures of the living room for another post. I put slipcovers back on the chairs, and redesigned the bookcase for all books. I needed more space in the big bookcase for homeschooling. I Can't Believe Summer is almost over! Where did the time go.

So much more to do before school starts. And we have a new ranch puppy coming Wednesday! We are so excited! Lots and lots to come, so check back soon.

Have a Great Monday and a Fabulous Week!

Remember, you can always use what you already have, to get a whole new feel to your home. The use non-traditional items in a new way is always a fun, easy, and inexpensive cure, to the "I'm bored with my space" disease.

The best way to get a new feel is empty the space and shop your home. It really can be a lot of fun, and your room gets really clean too :-) It makes you get all those pesky dust bunnies.

I know, I know, I'm always cleaning...

Happy Decorating!


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's a HOT Summer at Thistle Hill Ranch!

I found this on Pinterest and thought it summed up Living in the "SOUTH"!
My Pinterest and Instagram accounts have links here on my blog.

I love the idea of living in the South!

Southern living, sounds like porch swings, nice weather, ice tea sipping on porches, and long lovely summer days.



And I feel like Bonnie..."Nooooooo, not 100*+ Heat and Heat Index! I can't take it!"

The heat is almost unbareable!

I try to make myself get up early to enjoy the 80* weather... Yes, I said 80 DEGREES in the EARLY morning! Can you say YUK? I like 80's but not at 7 AM. I know some people Love this weather. I personally would love a high of 80.

I try my hardest to think FALL, late October, will be here soon!

I've learned to think of Summer as project time. Get everything that I need to get accomplished before Fall & Winter weather hits, finished over the summer.

So what do I do over Summer?

1. Clean and Organize

This includes closets, drawers, under "things" (ie. deep dusting and cleaning), & purge, purge, purge!

2. Get Organized for the Upcoming School Year

The older they get, the more planning that's involved with school curriculums, electives, and extracurricular activities. I'm a Nervous Nelly, Worry Wart, whatever you want to call me...I get stressed about making sure all the i's are dotted, and t's are crossed, where their education is concerned. They both have very different goals, and that takes planning.

3. Get Ranch Clean-Up Done, & Ranch Projects Planned

Because "ranching" is still so new to us, there is a lot I'm still learning. There is also a lot to plan. We now know that we NEED a new barn, we NEED an arena and a round pen, and we NEED to get going on the new house. Now, that the current home we are in, is all dish washer, new washing machine,new toilets, new tile in the master bathroom...well, new subfloor and tile replaced, house painted, old shrubs taken out, trees trimmed, deck fixed and repainted, kitchen sink re-reinforced....

WOW, that IS a lot!

It's time now to get started on the new Farmhouse!


It's a long road from plans, to breaking ground. With a husband whose super busy with work, and ME, with an A Type personality that wants to get things done, this is a frustratingly long road. The biggest struggle is I can't help get the house started. I have to be patient. Patience for me, is a learned behavior...I'm still learning....deep breath. Everything happens for a reason.

The house will get done when it's meant to get done.

I enjoy being outside a lot. But in the spirit of not melting, I'm embracing Inside Summer Project Time, and Early Morning Outside Project Time. I'm enjoying my kids, and enjoying my animals even if it is only in short spurts in the AM and PM!


All the horses came up to the house around lunch time.
I had to say a quick hi and get in a few hugs around their necks.



Bonnie & Darby enjoying the air conditioning!
Aren't they adorable?
I just adore them!


Patience keeping cool!


Stay Cool and Enjoy Your Summer!