Saturday, December 26, 2009


It's been quite some time since I last posted, has it not? It has been a busy season since the post and I needed to take some time off to focus on the tasks and to think. Combining fall cleaning, working on large projects (such as quilts), two holidays, visitors, and the normal everyday life of the Castleburys' (which has somehow become more busy of late... I'm not sure how, but has managed to do it again!) makes for a very interesting time. A time where one has to focus on the important thing - that being ones family and what you can do to help them.

It's been a wonderful time though... I thought I would give you a quick glimpse into the highlights of the past six and a half weeks!!

Feedin' Rex and Meetin' the Cows...
Towards the end of October Mrs. Franco and the kids were able to come visit for a day or so!! We had such a wonderful time with them... I think the highlight, for the kids at least, was going out to Bull Run and feeding the cows as most ALL of the cows are taller than they are!! Or maybe it was building a fort in the woods with Sayre... hmmm, maybe that was it! Bethany posted some pictures from their visit HERE.

Victoria, Haviland, Sawyer, and I - with Bethany in the background and Buck wanting in on it all!
It was a terrific time spent went them; a time of renewing friendships (we don't get to see them very often), a time of good discussions, and a time of working together!! We hope to see them again soon!

As soon as the fall cleaning was finished, Momma and I started working on our quilts. I had bought my quilt top at a yard sale well over a year ago now, and I was oh so anxious to see it completed. It took almost two weeks, as we had guests and other things that needed doing, but it's now finished and draped over the bench inside the back door!!! Oh I love it and am so pleased with how it turned out!

Being goofy...
Sawyer has been our entertainment of late!!! In the above picture he had just gotten knocked into the sink and we were all laughing at him!!! His comment upon being 'rescued' was "Oh, now my pants are wet!" which sent us into even further peals of laughter!! I love his smile... his eyes glow or 'dance' when that smile of his comes out!! Its the sweetest thing ever! Yes, he wears a hat most of the time - it just adds to his cuteness! :o)

Still in the works
Trevor has been working on the chicken coop, every chance he finds, with Sayre's help. The above picture is where the construction is on it right now. They have one full side plus a partial side of the coop to put the siding on, and then they'll move indoors putting in widows and doors, building nest boxes and roosts, and then I'll move the chickens in!!! I can't wait till that day!

The Chicky-y-doos
Speaking of the chickens, we are now getting anywhere from 11 to 13 eggs a day!! Thankfully we have a source that WANTS as many eggs as we can spare, otherwise we'd have a bit of a problem on our hands! :o)
These birds are an absolute blast!!! The ones that fly the fence have become rather bold and are up near the house scratching in the dirt... I have to count the birds each evening just to make sure that everyone is back in. I have to wonder if I don't have chickens laying outside of the pen.

A FIRST for us!
The best and most exciting part of the past few weeks has been the addition of a new calf to my herd of cows!!! She arrived last Sunday evening and is the cutest little thing ever!! She's highly curious and rather energetic for a new calf, I think. I have two more heifers that are due any day which is giving us allot of suspense and anticipation here!! It's going to be so neat to see all three of the calves running around out at Bull Run!

My Family~Winter 2009
In Front left to right: Sawyer, Momma, Me, and Thelma - Trevor's wife
In Back: Sayre, Daddy, Tristan, Trevor, and Collin.

Over these past weeks I've been doing some serious thinking in regards to my blog, and I've come to the conclusion that it is time for me to close this season of my life. There are so many things that I want to learn about or research, projects that I need to do, and new things that I want to delve into; as I've stepped back and looked at this area, the question that has kept coming to my mind is "What would the Lord have me to do during this time of life?". I'm here to serve the Lord by serving my family... this is a time of learning from my Mother... this is the time to learn things that I might not have the time to learn about years down the road... and I could go on.

I do not make this decision lightly; I've prayed about it, talked about it, and thought about it for quite a few weeks. But this is the right thing for me to do. I'll be leaving the blog up, but not posting (well, maybe I'll pop in every so often with a new post, but I'm not going to commit to anything).
I have so very much enjoyed blogging - from getting to know some of my readers through comments they leave all the way down to the encouragement y'all have been to me! It's been a wonderful time!! Than you for making it so!

To all my readers I wish you a Happy New Year! :o)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rain... Rain... Rain...

It's been a rainy yet delightful past day and a half! We've most certainly enjoyed our time spent indoors doing and focusing on things that are not 'everyday'. We had a good reason to be indoors... a little rain isn't enough to keep us from being outside, but when it's a downpour most of the day, then we do our utmost to stay dry. In the past thirty hours we've received just shy of five inches of rain!!! It's made feeding critters rather interesting... and wet!

View from my room...
As of yesterday around 4:00, which is when the rained slacked off enough for me to hasten out a give the critters an early feeding, we had received right at the inch and a half mark- per our rain gauge. When I woke up this morning I was surprised to see that the pond had tripled in size!!

Close up
It rained hard and steady all night long not slacking off until around 10:00 this morning. In addition to the water that the pond receives, it also holds the water draining from the front yard. I'm surprised, yet not really, that there was this much of a change from yesterday afternoon!! It's really neat! I'm already thinking a canoe ride is in order as soon as I find the canoe!! :o)

A wet and excited dog!! :o)
I headed out for a walk around 11:00 to clear my mind and to see the sights. Jasper had been outside for sometime already, but he was so happy to have me out there with him! It was seriously swampy out there... you don't quite leave footprints as you walk but it's 'pert near close'!!! There's been a nice wind most of the day which should help towards drying things out. I love seeing the ripples that it makes on the pond...

Stayin' busy...
So what have we been doing during the rain? Well, Mommas been working on making the house more into a home. Right now she's working on cleaning out her china which includes washing it and, to an extent, re-arranging the furniture that holds it. She and Sawyer took a break to make cookies this morning. Have I mentioned that Sawyer l.o.v.e.s to bake?

Hibernatin' in the sewing room...
I've spent every free moment of the past few days working in the sewing room. Some denim has been my focus and I ventured into uncharted territory by doing two rows of top stitching along each seam. My seam ripper and I are getting to be good friends these days... I feel as if I've done more 'picking'/ripping out than I've done sewing!!! :o) It's all for a good cause and I'm really enjoying the end result!

It all started out...
This was taken last Friday as I began cutting out the fabric. It was chilly in the house and the back porch offered me the perfect spot to get warmed up, naturally!!! It most certainly did the trick!
Despite the fun stuff we've been doing, I'm already looking forward to the sun coming out once again! It will be such a cheerful event!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Hymn for Sunday

Nearer, Still Nearer

Words & Music by: Lelia N. Morris, 1862-1929

Nearer, still nearer- close to Thy heart,
Draw my, my Savior, so precious Thou art;
Fold me, O fold me close to Thy breast,
Shelter me safe in that "Haven of Rest,"
Shelter me safe in that "Have of Rest."

Nearer, still nearer- nothing I bring,
Naught as an off'ring to Jesus my King-
Only my sinful, no contrite heart;
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart,
Grant me the cleansing Thy blood doth impart.

Nearer, still nearer- Lord, to be Thine,
Sin with its follies I gladly resign-
All of its pleasures, pomp and its pride;
Give m but Jesus, my Lord crucified,
Give me but Jesus, my Lord crucified.

Nearer, still nearer- while life shall last,
Till safe in glory my anchor is cast;
Through endless ages, ever to be
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee,
Nearer, my Savior, still nearer to Thee.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another Year Older...

Yesterday we celebrated Sawyer's fourth birthday... where did the past four years go?? It wasn't too long ago that he was a sweet and cuddly little baby, and now here he is...

Patiently Posing for Momma
... a sweet four year old that has such a tender heart.

OHhhhhhhhhhhhhh Boy!
I must say that his birthday celebration was unlike anything that I've ever seen, thanks to Sawyer! Birthdays around here are a family affair and although we all have fun, they are rather low keyed. This was NOT the case last night...

Trevor and Thelma-still newlyweds! :o)
Sawyer had spent most of the day wishing everyone a "Happy Birthday" when they wished him one!!! He talked about his birthday cake, became tickled pink when we sang the "Happy Birthday" song to him, and was just in general EXCITED over it all!
After dinner and conversation, it was present time... the most anticipated time for him!

"A Dump Truck!!!"
The look in the above two photos of Ham-man opening his gifts literally say it all. As he tore paper off of the gifts he would say "Oooohhh, it's a ______!! Thank you soooooooooooooo much!!!! Ohhhhhh boy!!! Thank you_________!!!"

As I sat there watching it all take place, I couldn't help but stand amazed with his thankful heart. Yes, he was excited over it all, but he would take the time to look the giver in the eye and to say "Thank you!". His excitement was contagious to all around the table and we all were wearing big grins and laughing out hearts out by the time he opened the last gift! It was truly a very special time for all involved.

Sawyer is turning into a fine little man. His thankfulness isn't limited to birthday presents; it carries over into everyday life- when I take clean clothes to his room he says "Oh Ashley, thank you for my clean clothes". When Momma comes home from the store we hear "Thank you for the wonderful food, Momma!". Or simply when something ordinary happens it's not unusual to hear "Ohhhh, thank you!!!" come from his mouth!

He's become a real help as well. He cheerfully brings me some laundry when I'm unable to get it, enjoys helping in the kitchen and will volunteer his services in there, he can unload the silverware from the dishwasher, and will be a big help if we will only allow him to.

Yes, Sawyer is a huge part of our family. We all love him dearly and count ourselves blessed to count him among us!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Recipe...

It's been requested that I share the recipe for the brownies that I shared in a post last week. Since I have a tried and true brownie recipe that everyone absolutely loves I'm beginning to expand my horizons a bit. For some strange and unknown reason, peanut butter swirl brownies have been on my mind the past few weeks so I went scouring the Internet to see what I could come up with. This is what I finally decided to try...

Michelle's Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies.

2 (3 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 9x13 inch baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, 1/4 white sugar, 1 egg, and milk until smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix together melted butter, 2 cups white sugar, and vanilla. Mix in the remaining three eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; mix into the batter. Stir in chocolate chips.

4. Remove 1 cup of the chocolate batter. Spread the remaining batter into the prepared pan. Spread the peanut butter filling over the top. Drop reserved chocolate batter by teaspoonful over the filling. Using a knife, gently swirl through the top layers for a marbled. effect.

5. Bake for 35- 40 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out almost clean. Cool completely, then cut into bars.

This was a pretty good recipe one that I would definitely make again but try several different things to see if I can improve on it.

1.) I had an 8 ounce block of cream cheese and didn't feel like cutting off and storing the extra two ounces (I remembered what happened the last time we stored the 'leftover' portion). Next time I will most certainly use the six ounces that the recipe calls for. The brownies were almost to 'rich' and not 'peanut-buttery' enough... I'm a thinkin' it was the extra cream cheese.

2.) Also, just out of curiosity, I will melt the butter and sugar together on the stove instead of melting the butter and then adding everything to it. This also means I'll mix the brownie batter up by hand instead of using the mixer. They always seem to be better when they are done 'on the stove', so to speak.

I may search the Internet some more before I finally decide on 'THE' recipe... but maybe inspiration will strike causing me to get creative and figure out how to take the 'tried and true' recipe and add the perfect peanut butter mixture to it!!! Now THAT sounds great!!! :o)


Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Hymn for Sunday

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Music by: Adelaide A. Pollard, 1862-1934
Words by: George C. Stebbins, 1846-1945

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay!
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!

Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence, humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o'er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Finally, after seemingly months of eager anticipating and wondering "when will it happen"...... it happened!!!

Nestled amongst the golf balls...
We got out first egg!!!!

Posing for a picture...
I headed out to the pen late yesterday afternoon just to see how the chicky-doos were doing. This involves checking the food, water AND, most importantly of late, the 'nest tub' (which is a blue barrel cut in half length wise) for 'treasures'; as well as standing around and watching the flock hunt for grubs, sun themselves, or take dust baths. It's always entertaining to see!!!
This particular afternoon there was a twist to it all. There was an EGG in a NEST that a HEN had made!!!! Talk about the culmination of all that we've put into these girls!

After I dumped the feeder out...
One of these lovely ladies, not the rooster in the middle of the photo, gave us our first egg. We believe her to be of the Australorpe breed which are the black hens in the above photo- their are fourteen of them.

Showing off the egg!
We were pretty excited over the egg!!! It's tiny but it's a start!!! I'm already restraining myself from tromping out to the pen every hour just to see if there might be any more out there!!! It's hard, but as long as I stay busy I will manage!!! EXCITEMENT!!! :o)

Ruler of the Roost...
I'll end the post with Mr. Rooster. He's a wreck. He can't crow... it's more like a one syllable squawk that sounds atrocious!!! He normally crows while they are still penned up in the mornings, when he's feeling really good during the late afternoons, and now, as of last night around 8:30, he crows in the dark! I sure hope his vocal chord growth catches up with the growth that his body is doing!!! I'm not sure how much longer of the squawking we can take! :o)

If you look close enough at the area behind the rooster you will see the beginnings of the chicken coop!! Daddy has the posts and a board for one side of the coop all ready and this weekend he'll be working on it, if it doesn't rain! I'm so excited!! Eggs and the beginnings of a coop all at the same time! :o)

Thursday, October 29, 2009


The sun is shining here at our place and it's simply delightful outdoors! The widows are open upstairs, and in various room throughout the house, letting in the fresh air from outside! It makes the room feel crisp and fresh after being shut up for so long due to rain or humidity.

View from the barn and chicken pen...
After spending quite a bit of time indoors last week, I was surprised to see how much the leaves had changed color!!! The River Birches are beautiful with their yellowing leaves which are quickly calling to the ground... pretty soon the trees will be completely bare and will look quite desolate until next spring.

Fresh from the oven...
With the windows open and the back door rotating between an open and closed state this morning, I jumped into some baking. We were on our last loaf of whole wheat bread so a new batch was on the agenda. For the past month or so, I have had quite a time with the bread... it's been dry and has risen only to fall when it's baked. I've used the same recipe and done nothing different than in times past, but it still turns out... to the eye unappealing. There has been a new recipe that I've been working with as well, and I've had the exact same results. Yesterday, Momma and I got to wondering if our yeast couldn't be 'bad' so she picked a new package up when she stopped at the Pantry Shoppe yesterday. So this morning, once the bread had risen beautifully, I turned the oven on and held my breath willing myself to NOT look at the oven for at least ten minutes (a watched pot never boils). Finally, I could take it no longer and just had to take a peek... the bread had pretty much STAYED risen!!!! Yes, there was a bit of 'settling' but there was a bouncy little person runinng around. I'm tickled pink!!! This is the first 'decent' rising I've had in a month!!! Granted, it could be better but I'm thrilled with what it did!!!

Michelle's Peanut Butter Marbled Brownies...
While the bread was baking I mixed up a batch of brownies. This is a new recipe but it sounded really good per the reviews I read. The 'white swirls' is a peanut butter and cream cheese mixture that tasted really good!! I have high hopes for these brownies... they are sitting on the counter at the moment. I wonder if they will make it to the table without anyone pilfering a bite!!! :o) We like to pilfer!!! Especially if it's good!!!

There is such a sense of satisfaction in seeing jobs well done; and I'm really looking forward to seeing how tasty both the bread and the brownies are!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Week Full of Projects!

This past week was a busy yet delightful and productive week! We had revival services at church Tuesday through Saturday evenings, I had rehearsals on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, a performance on Friday evening, and the time in between it all was spent staying busy with all sorts of things!

I decided to dedicate last week to working on a few projects that had become 'unbearable' and we're starting to hang over my head. I was ready to begin work on them and I even had help on one of them!

Pinning the lining and curtain together
Just over a week ago now, a friend that I hadn't seen in quite a few years came to visit for a few days and, as it would turn out, she discovered that I was getting ready to begin assembling curtains for my room. Somehow or another we began working on them the last day she was here, but didn't finish them as we ran into a 'the curtain-rod-won't-fit-into-the-'sleeve'' type of problem. We did get the hardest part done and it would be easy sailing to finish them.

Pausing for the camera...
Please pardon our laundry... rainy days and freshly laundered 'hanging clothes' don't mix very well!
So Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were dedicated to me finishing them!!! Yes, it took a while but see, I ran into a 'one curtain is longer than the other and everything is already sewn up' wall and as my Momma was rather wrapped up in getting the living room put back together, I thought it best to wait until she had a free moment.

Finally, the free moment arrived and we looked/measured/compared curtains only to find that there was no problem!!!! Whatever was wrong had apparently fixed itself while I worked on other things!! So, that afternoon I was able to finish them and get them hung!!!

While waiting for the free moment with Momma, I worked on several other projects. Piecing my quilt backing together was something that I've been aching to do for quite some time.
In this photo I'm measuring to see how wide the fabric will be once it's unfolded.

Once I had cut the lining in half lengthwise, it was time for me to pin the two pieces together length wise (the fabric was about 40 inches wide and I needed to widths... I wound up with the back being about 80 inches wide and about six feet long! :o) and then sew them together. Then it was back in the storage bag the quilt back and top went to await the next step... which is pinning.

Finishing a project...
Momma has been faithful to remind me, over the past several weeks, to finish my black dress. All that was left was to sew what I'll call 'contrast binding', made up of some black shiny material, along the neckline and sleeves. It wasn't much and I knew it wouldn't take long... it was the idea of sitting still and hand sewing that I wasn't keen on; especially since it meant doing it during the day. But the dress needed to be finished in time for the concert, so I focused my attentions on it and completed it, much to my joy!! It looks terrific... and finished! The little details add so much to a garment, do they not?

Folding out fabric...
After all of the above mentioned projects were done, I chose to put a skirt together. I had a pattern that I wanted to sew again, this time making a few changes, so I rummaged around in my fabric stash and found a cheerful print that was perfect.

I used Simplicity 2609 view D and simply shortened the 'yoke' by about two inches; next time I plan on shortening it only by 1-1/2 inches. I had to add extra length to the skirt which was a process... but I think I may be able to do it again.
My all time favorite skirt pattern is Simplicity 9825 view D. One of these days I'm going to get adventurous and do view E which is the same thing just with all the stitching!
Do you have a favorite skirt patter?

Friday I spent mending a few items and shocking my Mother in the process!! She never thought she would see the day that her daughter would actually be concerned about picking out seams, re-pinning/re-aligning, and finally sewing it all back together! It was quite the treat to see her shocked face when I told her what I'd been up to!! :o)

I am not at all sure as to what this week holds. I still have some mending to work on, a cross-stitch that desperately needs attention, a quilt that is working it's charm on me (which means that I'm getting in the mood to put it together!) and any number of other projects that I could dive into!!!
I hope y'all have a splendid day!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Hymn for Sunday

How Great Thou Art

Words by: Stuart K. Hine, 1899-1989
Music by: Swedish folk melody; revised by Jean Staneschi: arr. Stuart K Hine

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou Art, how great Thou art!

When thru the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savor God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What we are up to... in pictures!

Day in and day out find us doing some of the same everyday tasks; chores, cooking, animals, etc. but the days do differ in what we occupy our time with. Here's a quick look at some ordinary and not so ordinary tasks that we do.

Helping Feed the Critters- let's see... five dogs, twenty-nine chickens, and who knows how many rabbits. Oh should I count the tank of mice that Sayre was keeping out in the shop? Who knows where it is now!

Working on the always accumulating baskets of laundry! This is most definitely a task that must be done daily!

"Roll pat, roll pat, we're making a treat for Daddy" Cooking or baking is something that Momma and I do on a daily basis. Sawyer loves to help, as you can tell!

Chicken wrangling... do you know that chickens scatter when you try to catch them? Makes catching the roosters verrrry challenging! We had to butcher our roosters due to them becoming increasingly aggressive towards the hens. I miss their crowing that began before five in the morning as well as their afternoon crowing. Hopefully the Australorpe rooster that we kept will soon find his voice!

Sewing during any free time I have... I haven't had much free time this week and I'm aching to sew!

Painting... this project has been underway for several weeks now. The boys worked on the trim this past Thursday and I must say that it looks quite sharp!

Heading off to a rehearsal. The performance is in less than a week so in addition to practicing every day I've been attending rehearsals. It's been quite fun!

And that's a peek into what's keeping us busy these days! I'll be taking the next week off from blogging as we have a busy week ahead of us. I'll get back to regular posting the following week.